Kevin Moriarity

Books. I Read a Lot of Books. I Like Trains Too.

Illinois Railway Museum Visit

I drove out to the Illinois Railway Museum today. It is the largest railway museum in the United States. Founded in 1953, it is run by all volunteers and receives funds from donors and sales in the gift shop and book store.

The GOP Doesn’t Own It?

What a bunch of losers. They are now in total control of all the branches of government. They are no longer able to be the party of “NO.” That was easy! Now they are in control and they own everything that happens from now on. I saw this in my Bloomberg Markets newsletter today:

Hot on the heels of the failure of the Republican move to repeal and replace Obamacare, the next threat to the previous administration’s flagship piece of legislation could come before the weekend. The White House has so far not confirmed that it will pay the monthly subsidy — which helps low-income people access health care — due to insurers. The volatile politics surrounding Obamacare has already seen insurers pull back from the plan.”

If the Republicans were to follow the ACA law as it was written, paying the subsidies as the law calls for and enforcing the mandate as the law calls for, and THEN it implodes, well then the law’s own flaws would have caused it to fail and it deserves to be changed or repealed. But, that is not their intent – they intend to sabotage it and guarantee it fails, at which point they WILL own it.

On another note, they intend to appropriate 1.6 billion to the construction of the wall. But, they are attaching that to a defense bill to avoid any debate or discussion. The concept of a border wall is worth a discussion all by itself. It’s not just the money – it’s the idea that we want to erect a wall with our southern neighbor rather than continue to work with them to solve our joint problems. Do we really want to go the East German route? We’re better than that.

July 4, 2017: Independence Day

It’s so obvious. I should write about Independence Day. No big angst about what my topic should be today!

Independence. What does it mean? I’ll throw out a few examples of what I think it means to me. I’m free to write whatever I want here short of libel. I’m free to hold whatever opinion I care to, and can express it without fear of the government knocking on my door to tell me to stop. Not everyone on our planet can say that. I’m free to consume whatever media I want, regardless of it’s political affiliation. It’s my choice to ignore whatever media I choose too. I’m free to work where I choose, or not at all. I’m free to go to whatever church I want, or not at all. I’m free to travel where I’d like in the United States, or not. There may be some consequences to my choices, but government does not dictate these choices for me.

Some will argue that not everyone in our society is as free as I am, that I am privileged. We’re not a perfect society. It is more difficult for a black man to feel free to choose his work, or free to speak up, or free to travel freely. I acknowledge that and those things should be fixed – now. We need to live up to our ideal as expressed in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s shameful that this did not apply to everyone equally from the very beginning, but surely there is no excuse for unequal treatment in 2017. Even given that we’re not perfect, we’re pretty darn free to do as we please here and for that we should be grateful.

July 3, 2017: Struggling to 250

I have faltered. I hit the same brick wall I hit over and over. What to write about? Some days everything I think of seems pointless and trivial.

I just finished a book yesterday called World, Chase Me Down by Andrew Hilleman. It was very good. Hilleman has a way with words and the story was good too. That is a rare combination in my opinion. Usually I get one or the other. One of the themes seemed to be about our legacy. What remains after we’re gone? Will anyone remember us and if they do, what for?

I want my writing to make an impact, to matter. But, it doesn’t and it’s hubris for me to think it will. I’m no deep thinker. I don’t sweat for hours over these little essays I write. I’m like everyone else in this digital world – I put my stuff out there and hope someone reads it, but I really don’t put the effort into making it truly memorable. So, why do I expect to make a difference? Because I see the drivel that gets out and ends up going viral. I see what does make an impact, positive or negative doesn’t really matter, and I figure I can do as well. But, I don’t. 36 more words and I have my 250 in. That’s what it comes down to – one foot in front of the other. Just keep churning out the words and eventually something will come out that makes me remembered. Or not.

Walking & Throwing the Bums Out

I meet a bunch of writers at a local coffee shop on Saturdays. I decided to walk over there today. I felt lousy yesterday, both physically and mentally (see yesterday’s post!). I thought a nice long walk would provide both badly needed exercise and time to think. I used to walk a whole lot more. When we lived in Appleton (Wisconsin), I used to walk to the local library all the time. I used to walk on Sunday mornings to get the Sunday paper and Twizzlers. I walked most lunch hours at my work. I was not heavy, but I liked the time to get my head together. Today’s walk helped my mood considerably. I was also reminded how much more you see when you walk. I zip by while driving and never notice a lot of things. Today I noticed, and for the most part, approved of what I saw in the little town I live in.

My cousin posted an article on Facebook today about what a mess Illinois is in. The article is correct; things are messed up here. We have not had a state budget since July of 2015. We’re billions behind on our bills. And we owe state worker pension payments of about $166 billion. I put in a comment that part of the problem is party loyalty. We keep electing the same people over and over and over.

The same holds true at the federal level.

In 2012, Congressional approval averaged 15 percent, the lowest in nearly four decades of Gallup polling. And yet, 90 percent of House Members and 91 percent of Senators who sought re-election won last November. (Gallup data as reported in the Washington Post)

In 2016: 97% of the House incumbents were reelected; 93% of the Senate incumbents were reelected. (

And these numbers are not unusual. In fact 95 percent (or more) of House members typically win re-elections dating back four decades.

  1. We all agree our elected representatives are not doing a good job. We all agree on that – right?
  2. We keep electing the same bozos over and over and over.

Why? Party loyalty. Democrats can’t stomach the idea of voting for a Republican and vice versa. The way the districts have been drawn the incumbents are not afraid of being fired for not doing a good job. They don’t fear us, the voters. They appear to fear a primary challenge, but not us. Until we wise up and start firing these losers, we’ll get more of the same. That might require holding your nose when you vote, but it’s the only way we have to change things short of violence – which is not likely to work to our advantage anyway.

June 30, 2017: Politicians Bad For My Health

I was going to write yet another little post about the Republicans’ latest strategy regarding the health insurance mess. They plan on repealing the Affordable Care Act now, completely, and then replacing it with something else later. But, what’s the point? No one is listening. I’m howling into the wind and once in a great while it feels good, but usually it doesn’t. It feels futile. It feels I have little ability to control my own destiny. And that’s the same feeling that people who voted for the current lunatic occupying the White House felt too. I do understand their anger and frustration. I do wish they didn’t elect this guy. He’s not the right guy for the job and he’s not going to make America great again.

But, back to my original theme. Almost everything that gives me anxiety right now, and that is adversely affecting my health, has been caused by politicians. Health insurance is now my number 1 expense; politicians caused that to get worse. I’m not giving the insurance companies a pass – they are hugely complicit in this, but politicians got together with the insurance industry to make this mess a lot worse than it has to be.

The state of Illinois is a mess. Politicians made promises to interest groups to get votes. They wrote checks they could not cash – they knew they couldn’t make good on those promises, that it would become someone else’s problem in the future. The future is now in Illinois. I don’t know how they are going to fix it, but I suspect it’s going to negatively affect my retirement.

My second largest expense is my property tax. 70% of that tax goes to the schools. I don’t understand why it is so expensive here relative to other places. I have friends in other states that pay a third of what I pay in property tax and their kids are not drooling idiots – they have attended good colleges and gone on to have successful careers. And, my friends don’t feel like they have to move somewhere else because their property tax expenses keep going up and up and up.

Some people say it’s corruption. I’m sure that’s a big part of it. But, I also think a lot of these issues are due to incompetence. We’ve elected a lot of people that tell us that government is the problem, and they are doing their best to prove it to us. They have a vested interest in making it fail and that is on us – that’s our fault for electing people who want to prove to us that government can’t do anything right.

June 29, 2017: Trump Embarrasses Americans – Again

Today Trump tweeted:

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came……to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Am I the only one who is embarrassed by this? Am I the only one who is angered by this? This isn’t just some rich douchebag tweeting – this is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!! This guy is turning us into the laughingstock of the world.

I thought I understood political correctness and its evils. Some of the stuff I see happening in our universities – kid’s safe spaces, trigger warnings, and this sense of entitlement, that they should only have to listen to things they agree with – sickens me. Some of the teachers on the left are teaching an intolerance of conservative ideas that is just as wrong as the right wing intolerance of liberal ideas. Political correctness, in that context, is bad for our democracy. But, it seems as if anti-political-correctness has morphed into a license to be a rude asshole. And, occasionally our president is just that – certainly in this latest tweet.

I’m sick of it and it embarrasses me. It’s not about his policies or the ideas about health insurance or taxation – it’s about his coarseness and license to be a jerk that I think makes us less great over time. It emboldens the worst among us to crawl out from under their rocks and do despicable, hateful things.

My mom was right: if you have nothing nice to say, just shut your frickin’ mouth. Of course I’m paraphrasing, since my mom was far more polite, and had far more class than I do – she would have gotten the point across politely.

June 25, 2017: Health Insurance – Again!

I ran across an article last night. It’s written by Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, MD. It’s something I’ve written about many times in the past, but perhaps he says it better here (emphasis is mine):

“The third party payment system prevents normal market forces from working. The health care providers and hospitals are negotiating their prices with the third party rather than the consumer. The third party payer has a completely different set of interests and priorities than does the consumer/end user. The consumer is never offered a direct, transparent price. The consumer is actually out of the loop! Without transparent prices negotiated between the consumer and the producer (provider), market forces are unable to work. There is no realistic feedback between production and consumption using the pricing mechanism. Innovation is, likewise, not consumer-driven, but rather driven by the interests of the third party.”

Read the entire article!

I know I need health insurance, but I don’t WANT health insurance. What I want is to feel good and have the ability to see and afford a doctor to help me when I don’t feel good. All the effort of the political class seems to be about insurance and less about real health care. They really don’t get it and I think that is due to the influence of lobbyists who make enormous amounts of money by promoting the status quo.

Republic of Letters

I walked around Swedish Days in Geneva today. I was looking for a booth for the Republic of Letters. Annie Baldwin had passed around postcards about this organization this morning at Limestone. It’s a non-profit, new in the area, with a mission that states: “Reclaiming the civic space through reading, writing and argument.” They plan on holding events, classes and setting up a bookstore in Geneva. I support any attempt to bring more literary stuff into the area and so should you. Check out their website and if you like what you see, do what you can to get involved and help. Hopefully I will see the Republic of Letters organizers at Waterline next season! Being a writer is a tough gig and we all have to help each other out.

June 24, 2017: Every Day is a Gift

Every day is a gift. A friend told me that today on my way to Limestone Coffee & Tea this morning. She was walking her dog and flagged me down. She told me one of our neighbors had gone into cardiac arrest yesterday while attending one of her son’s ball games. Our neighbor was, at that time, unresponsive in the intensive care unit at Delnor hospital. She’s only 50. I’ve lost friends already; I imagine many of us have, but events like this still makes me pause and think about how short life is, how it can all change so suddenly and how my friend was so right: each day is indeed a gift, and we should never forget that.

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