Monday, October 24, 2011

A Broken Promise

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt up to writing anything as I’ve been mired in a situation that so many others have found themselves. The situation of an elderly parent that has just been diagnosed with cancer and what it means to the remainder of their life. How this still terrifying news will affect my mom and the relationships that remain in her life is still unclear. I pray for her recovery but fear that she doesn’t much care how things turn out as she longs for the day she meets her Maker. Additionally, I find myself questioning my motivations for her recovery as being little more than selfish on so many different levels – all of which I will keep as personal at this time.

My mom and I have stood on opposite sides of the political divide for some time now. A split that threatened to end an already tested relationship due to the trials of growing up in a single parent home in the 70’s and my move across country more than 20 years ago. A bond between a mother and son that should never be broken but has nevertheless sustained some moderation in the recent past.

I was really surprised when she started to include her political commentary that was so contrary to what I thought was a shared belief – after all she did have a big hand in my development. We chose to work out our differences by focusing on the non-political aspects of our shared lives. Telephone calls that where once dominated by me touting a liberal/progressive viewpoint became more about how she was feeling and any news she thought I should hear about the lives being carved out by my brothers and sisters.
As I learned more about our divergent beliefs the less care I took with maintaining my relationship with mom. I was no longer a teenager being scolded over a curfew infringement or a profane sense of humor; I was a grown man with a family, responsibilities and a growing sense of my own self-importance. I stopped making as many calls as infrequent as they were, justifying my inaction by thinking that the phone lines worked both ways thereby making her an accomplice in the wreckage of our bond. A weakness I regret but I had been setting up for too many years.

Just a few days ago I was stunned as our political truce seemed to come to a sudden end when mom told me she was afraid that recovery wasn’t possible and it was going to be due to Obama-care. I truly had not seen this coming and found myself looking for the words that I could share to dissuade her from these fears. Of course I could spend the rest of this post knocking down all the reasons that this fear is totally unfounded but I will close with the following thoughts about my mother.

She has led a life in service to others and her children. She was brought up at times by her mother and other times in a Catholic orphanage. When it was time to leave the orphanage she tried life as a Catholic nun.  After leaving the convent she worked with kids and found herself drawn to a scrappy, recently discharged sailor. They soon started their family – 5 kids – before he died and left her to raise that family. She did not remarry or date until she was in her 70’s. She watched as her oldest daughter was left for dead in the street after a hit and run driver on Mothers Day– thankfully my sister is still with us but has lived with mom ever since. She has quietly supported each of her children as we traveled on our paths to the lives we have today. She has had good times but many more trying times – I am thankful for the way she shepherded me through my much less trying times.

My mother, whatever her secret desire is about her prognosis, doesn’t deserve a moment’s unrest about what Health Care Reform means to her future. This worry about the fictional death panels or the rationing of care is the fault of people that would prop up the current for profit model of health care over a more humane system of health care delivery. The likes of just about any Republican with (or without) a microphone and Tea Partiers that have linked patriotism with unfettered capitalism – all of whom have an aversion to progress and a love for the immoral status quo.  They have now set the stage for additional stress with which any person facing a severe health issue needs not to deal.

Sorry mom, I just had to get political one last time and I hope I get to keep my promise not to let politics enter our relationship for many more years.  I love you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sometimes it's what is not said...

I’ve been trying to shake off something I heard Bill O’Reilly say on his insipient show a couple weeks ago.  I almost had it out of my system but find myself wondering why what I heard didn’t seem to get any notice - anywhere.

According to Mediaite they cite this quote from Billo’s Talking Points segment originally aired on September 19, 2011:
“If you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in. Again, let’s take me. My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50%, which is very possible, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I like my job but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person’s income?”

Other than the obvious celebrations the thought of Billo taking himself off the air voluntarily caused in the world in which most of us live – one of common sense and a normal sense of self importance. Additionally - is he so out of touch that the current tax structure isn't oppressive to many at the lower end of the scale - perhaps they should quit and leave Mr. O'Reilly without a gardener, housekeeper or one of the other scores of people getting paid a "nice salary".

However, earlier in his lecture addressed to the President and Warren Buffett he states that he pays 35% on his take home pay and some of it is invested and the profits therefore should be taxed at a lower rate – currently 15%. (See the complete video at )

Well it would be a fine world in which to live if we all made enough to risk a portion of our take home in a financial market that has been proven to be a toy for the extremely wealthy to play with and manipulate. Those well off individuals are telling us through Mr. O’Reilly and the politicians they have bought that their risk or “gamble” deserves treatment better than the income those less fortunate need to make ends meet.

Some of us are still lucky enough to be partially and voluntarily funding our 401k or 403b for a future that may not include the entitlements we have been paying for throughout our work lives through mandatory payroll taxes – Social Security and Medicare. A burden paid on 100 % of our income at this end of the spectrum but vanishes after the first month of work by those making a mere $1,000,000 a year. The 0.2% and many at the top of the ever dwindling middle class may not have to worry about the golden years but most of us still do. 

“Over the past 15 years, there has been a major change in the way that American executives, particularly CEOs, are paid. For many executives, annual stock-option grants are now greater than cash compensation (salary and bonus). Annual changes in CEO wealth from revaluations of stock and stock-option holdings completely swamp cash compensation, and provide substantial pay-to-performance sensitivity. All of this is a dramatic change from the early 1980s, when the median stock-option grant to top executives was zero.”

This difference in tax treatment of income – either due to ones honest labor, good investment or compensation structure – should not be treated unequally. This inequity has led this country into the financial trouble we face today as more of the wealth generated migrates upwards to the high earners in remunerations that are more favorably taxed as investments instead of routine income – starving our Government of revenues needed to maintain services at current levels. So due to the lower rates the top earners have a playing field tilted to promote continued and ever higher accumulation of wealth at that end of the scale. This puts to lie the oft repeated charge of the GOP and Tea Party that we have a spending problem only. We have a series of issues that have found root in our country over the past 30 years (yes including the Clinton Administration) that were further exacerbated with the undisciplined spending of the George W. Bush years.

As President Obama has stated this is “math not class warfare”. There are many of our fellow citizens who for one reason or another choose to demonize the less fortunate and blame them for all the nation’s troubles. This is the same group that cries “class warfare” when a compelling but different view of our national finances are stated. Instead of reaching out to the more than gracious hand offered by the elected President to fix our problems they repeat their mantras and spin wildly untrue accusations imagined or based upon a twisted view of reality.

OK – so I’ve traveled a bit from where I started but will try to pull it all together. Sometimes it isn’t’ what Bill O’Reilly and his Fox colleagues  say over and over and over – it’s what they don’t say in a cynical attempt to mislead people. What I have just gone over isn’t what Billo said but what he didn’t say. That some income is more equal than others and that the US tax code should treat investment as something other than disposable income used to gamble in our over Capitalist society.

Hopefully we will be able to come together and re-elect a President who has done a lot and has more to do instead of electing those willing to pander to single issue voters or demonize their fellow countrymen or have made their fortunes by buying up companies and selling off the hopes and dreams of others.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyone should listen to @Floridaline

From Twitter
Ryan’s Wrong —We Need ‘Medicare for all' (May 2011)
For anyone that can't carry a thought out more than one or two steps this comment may appear to be totally un-American. However, the concept of the single payer and the use of the Medicare System to administer it should be ballyhooed by everyone. The Medicare System with a few tweaks can ensure health care for everyone while controlling costs, improving outcomes and ensuring a reasonable return on investments. Health care as it is delivered today ensures only the best care to the wealthiest fraction of our population while ignoring the poorest until they are in crisis and the vast middle portion just hoping that calamity doesn't make a call to their home and if it does you are lucky enough that it is covered by the plans offered by employers that shop based on cost not care.

Without a doubt if you found yourself to be numbered amongst the misfortunate that will have to cope with a major health issue; before Health Care Reform (Obama-care) fully kicks in, one that drives your personal finances into bankruptcy you would feel some outrage. What portion of the bill that drives your now uncertain future was due to the record breaking profits large corporations are posting, or cash being passed  from lobbyist to any elected official, or the ubiquitous advertising cost of medical devices & drugs, or the highly inflated salaries and bonuses paid to high ranking corporate officers that you would feel it immoral.

There are plenty of other opportunities for business to earn outrageous margins and for celebrity CEOs to personally gain while denying a living wage to those they employ. It should be as distasteful to the healthy, lucky and well-heeled that maximizing profit margins enter into our national conversation regarding health as it is to those that are most negatively affected by that conversation. I’ve spent more than 30 years in health care finance – in California and Florida – in that time I’ve seen the number of bankruptcy notices increase at the same time financial pressures have grown on hospitals and doctors.

It’s a weird situation we have here – a country that has the best and worst health care the world has to offer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Refiguring Congressional Salaries - Maybe They're Over Paid?

Recently we’ve seen a couple Congressmen publicly complain about how much they are being paid. Aside from the chutzpah displayed when so many of our fellow Americans find themselves unemployed or under-employed I believe their complaints should be viewed from a different paradigm. While I acknowledge that many will say that figures lie and liars figure I will risk the wrath of all those who were so unfortunately elected to office – only after they raised campaign funds and spent like mad dogs asking for your vote. Congress in this country should not be viewed as a way to make your fortune but as a way to serve the people of the country you profess to love – I’m looking your way Sara Palin (yes I know she was never in Congress).
 $    174,000
2011 Base Salary
 $        83.65
FT Hourly Rate - 40 Hrs / Week * 52 Weeks = 2,080 Hours
 $        19.86
24 / 7 Hourly Rate - 24 Hours * 365 Days = 8,760 Hours
 $        21.35
Mean Averge Rate 2010
2010 Days in Session - House
2010 Days in Session - Senate
Average Days in Session - ( 125 + 156 ) / 2
Weekdays in 2010 Number of days Monday - Friday in 2010
Federal Holidays in 2010
Days not in Session - ( Weekdays - Days in Session - Fed Holidays )
Weekend Days - ( 365 - Weekdays in 2010 )
OMG Days Off ! - ( Days not in Session + Weekend Days )
Percentage of Calendar Days Off - ( 203 / 365 )
 $      134.26
FT Adjusted Hourly Rate = $ 279,259 per year
 $        44.75
24 / 7 Adj Hourly Rate = $392,037 per year

The current Congressional base salary is $174,000 which is nothing to shake a stick at considering how much of the people’s work they aren’t getting done. If this were an episode of the Soprano’s we might even call this a “no show job”. Well based on a 40 hour work week this would equate to $83.65 per hour – but of course Congress will tell you that they serve 24 / 7 and the real rate in their mind is closer to $19.86 or 93% of the average mean of all workers in the United States in 2010. This may be true but can anyone recall when the Congress did anything for an extended period of time 24 / 7 – vacations or time off excluded? Additionally, I don’t believe the taxpayer should be left holding the bag for the time Congress takes to be wined and dined by lobbyist or working to fill their campaign coffers. After adjusting for weekends, Federal holidays and days not in session that leaves us with a Congressional workforce away from their duties 55.6% of the time. Quick check your benefit package from your job to see how you measure up to our Congressional yardstick. I would say that these people are under-employed and have time to find a good part-time job to help out with the family budget – perhaps send their significant other out to find a job that pays more than minimum wage.

Just as some people do with teachers’ salaries - I have recalculated your rates based on actual time in the classroom… I mean the House & Senate. Figuring that even the Representatives identified in the links above would agree that they should only be paid for the time they are “producing” something of value their rates would be $134.26 an hour or approximately $279 thousand a year or if we go by their 24 /7 argument it would be $44.75 an hour or approximately $392 thousand a year. Welcome to your new paradigm – the one that says the poor have stuff so they aren’t really poor and the wealthy actually create jobs.

So Representatives Duffy and Southerland cheer up – your financial plight isn’t as dire as you thought. I’m sure the annualized adjusted salaries are respectful enough even for you. If they aren’t you still have the option of not running for re-election and entering the blistering hot jobs market of which you did nothing to contribute to in this new Congress. Keep complaining and we’ll have to start taking a good hard look at your benefits too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Changing Attitude Towards President Obama

The malcontents and haters are at it again blaming the President for the GOP’s incalcitrant behavior. The GOP have never made a secret that their goal is to deny Barack Obama at every turn and then accuse him of nefarious behavior when he is forced to play politics to get anything done. Despite the GOP’s efforts he has continued to outperform them politically and bring measured but undeniably progressive leaning measures to fruition but he has paid a steady price in his poll numbers.

Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that circumstance beyond any man’s control have evolved or possibly conspired to meet the GOP’s stated goal of making him a one term President?  Big business continues to post record profits while refusing to expand the workforce with anything other than low paying and non-benefited positions. The national wealth continues to migrate upwards to the already wealthy and their obscenely low tax rates in effect driving down demand in the market, reducing government revenues and sequestering money that should be stimulating job growth thereby putting to lie the idea that they are job creators. The poor and middle class are blamed for the bad business decisions made in boardrooms of banks and investment houses by people far more savvy about financial instruments and economics.

All this continues while from the direction of the far right and those that pose in colonial costumes try to drown out any thought that President Obama’s programs could be working for all of us. No one that gathered at a Koch Brothers sponsored event or were spurred on by the delusional ravings of megalomaniacs with microphones will ever be hurt by the changes proposed and passed during President Obama’s initial administration. They are driven by something that they have tried to convince themselves no longer exists or to which they are somehow immune – Racism and Hate.

The thought that those in need of assistance are dishonest, lazy and don’t look anything like the typical Tea Partier – white, middle-aged and still employed or lucky enough to have a secure retirement future – drive their racist attacks against “them”. Taking a good look at a cross section of those affected by the George Bush Administration driven recession will show all sectors of our society have been hit; although, Blacks and Hispanics have borne a far heavier burden. The simple fact of the last statement should put to rest the racist nature of our society and this movement in particular. Without a doubt the invective which these statements will be met will support the hate.

We can continue to expect the right to hurl accusations that the left will only be happy when the American Experiment fails and we are left with a socialist or communist country. These comments along with the charge that the Left is waging class warfare are made in the hope of shaming people in light of their beliefs that this is what the Founding Fathers expected for this country. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

While there may be parties with purely socialist or communist ideals most people that identify with the left are at ease with a profit motive and the accumulation of wealth. However, we expect fairness in the marketplace and an open forum for ideas. We expect that the values that are identified as American are honored and upheld by the actions of our leaders. We acknowledge that not everyone will be successful but that does not make it incumbent upon those who are to berate or ignore them. Unfettered laissez-faire capitalism is not driven by morality thereby necessitating the imposition of morality through social policy and regulation of capitalism. Like it or not our founding documents do not mandate a market system but ideals for which we should reach.

Those that count themselves among the President’s supporters in 2008 - we are in danger of losing the progress for which we voted. I’ve noted the derision of how we speak of each other on the various social networks available to us. Everyone that supported the President with their vote needs to realize that he will need you to be there in 2012 with a friend or two in tow. Obama’s base needs to realize that the internecine feud being carried out is not a productive use of our energy. We all had our reasons for voting for the President in ‘08 and they have not changed.

We cannot allow further erosion of personal liberties and rights. The situations played out in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Arizona and Florida should give us all the motivation to ensure the President’s victory but we need more. A friendly soul pointed out to me recently that not only must we return Obama to the Oval Office but we need to send him more support in the form of Democrats in the House and Senate. I cannot tell you what to do but do something to counter any idea that more conservatives in Washington DC or any statehouse is the answer – it’s not.

My final thought is that the President should hold his course. If the actions of the right cause him to change the far right might realize that by not working on the people’s business with Obama now they may unleash a situation that no one will control.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thoughts about justifying a second Obama Administration

Before I get too far into the topic I'd like to commend Driftglass & Blue Gal for the work they do day in and day out. Since they are on my weekly things to do I prefer not to think of them toiling away in obscurity but sparking the thoughts that I share because I think they have merit and will no doubt not meet this definition by either of them. To their collective horror what follows did not have anything to do directly with any single podcast – available at their web sites, Crooks & Liars, Facebook and I Tunes (hope I got that right!) – but to a fairly prolonged exposure to their efforts. They are to be married soon and I promise to send a cash gift for that event but an additional amount to help promote their efforts and the internet kitties.

I have for a while tried to justify my support of President Obama for many reasons even though I am one of those “emoprogs” that seem to get no respect for our feelings.

I have tried to justify the President’s lack of fight for good and right causes due to the inevitable end of that process leading to defeat if not compromised.  This is due to the number of Democrats in the House and Senate not being sufficient to pass and hold more progressive desires and the rules these bodies have put in place. However, it does not console me when I see him start his negotiation from a point somewhat closer to the right than seems appropriate. This leads me to believe, despite the campaign rhetoric, that I was na├»ve and duped.

I have also tried to justify his turn to the right since the inaugural as the pragmatic move of a black man in this country. A country that claims to have made so much racial progress but ignores the institutionalized racism that is still afoot but just not talked about. The very thought that intelligent people in this country continue to use the ends of this racism as the very explanation of it. I could spend an afternoon writing on each manifestation of our secret racism but just take a look at how unemployment and voting rights reflect an unequal treatment of the races in our country. One of my fears for voting for him was the target I felt I was pinning to his shirt so that some nut job would seek his/her infamy.

I have lately taken to the idea that I would be protecting future Supreme Court selections.  Without a doubt in this area my President has proven himself with the selections he has already made. However, I am also concerned that any future selections will not meet the standards that he has set. It won’t be because we would suddenly want more Alito’s or Scalia’s on the Court but that the Republicans in the Senate will do just as their leader has stated. Everything will be a hostage situation and my President has not yet set a line on the political hostage taking as he did with the Somali pirates.

How do I justify voting for a President that knowingly put himself into a dangerous and difficult situation by asking for my vote in 2008 after the evidence is evaluated? Will he suddenly become the President I thought I voted for or negotiate from a position of strength which his office affords him? Do I have the right to demand of him more than he has already delivered and at what risk? I am torn by my feelings. If he asks for my vote he will get it but it doesn’t make me feel good about it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Entitlements is not a 4 letter word

If you are making less than $106,800.00 a year then you are disproportionately paying for entitlements that you count on being there for your retirement or if you should become disabled.  Without a doubt the wealthiest 2% are set for any eventuality that comes their way but these are entitlements for which you were required to make contributions and therefore should not be discarded by the weasels in Washington today. To take your money with the promise of future benefits then not deliver is fraud and the only reason that Washington thinks of these entitlements as part of the spending problem is due to their mismanagement of the budgets since the Reagan Administration.  Do not misconstrue what I am saying here – this is a history lesson not a call for a Balanced Budget Amendment.

The people we sent to Washington decided to borrow money from the surpluses that our entitlements were generating and now do not want to levy the needed taxes to repay those loans. In lieu of repayment they want to retroactively change the terms of those loans and accuse us of being some kind of mythical welfare queen/king or malcontent.

To help with the problems with which these entitlements are saddled we need to understand that we have already paid for them outside of our Federal Income Tax responsibilities and the funds belong to us and were entrusted to the government so that games that are played on Wall Street would not negatively impact a secure future.

First – collect more from those making more than $106,800 a year. This can be done at a reduced rate and without an employer matching over that amount as to not further chill an already cold jobs market.

Per the AFL-CIO’s Pay Watch the average salary and bonus of the S&P 500 CEOs is $1,345,402.00 which is an hourly rate of $646.83 or $153.58 per hour 24-7. For comparison’s sake the poor shlub making $106,800 per year would only be making $12.19 per hour 24-7. At the CEO’s rate he would be done making any contributions to Social Security and Medicare before the end of the first month. 
“In 2010, Standard & Poor's 500 Index company CEOs received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation— a 23 percent increase in one year.[1] Based on 299 companies’ most recent pay data for 2010, their combined total CEO pay of $3.4 billion could support 102,325 median workers’ jobs.”

Using numbers reported by Forbes the average compensation for the top 500 averaged $8,000,000 which means by lunchtime on the third working day of 2009 the CEO has stopped all contributions to Social Security and Medicare. Is there any wonder why these essential programs are being starved to death as compensation continues to grow at the higher end of the scale and not so much at the lower end?

Special Report
What The Boss Makes
Scott DeCarlo, 04.28.10, 06:00 PM EDT
Our analysis of executive pay shows which big bosses made the most and which deserved what they made.
In total, these 500 executives earned $4 billion in 2009, which averages out to $8 million apiece.

Second – do not vote for anyone that would fraudulently take away from you what you have already paid for when they refuse to fix a problem instead of killing your benefits off.

The Debt: GOP, Tea-Partiers and my children

Help me understand why the GOP and Tea-Partiers are concerned about my children and grand-children and the debt…

They say we can no longer pile up the deficits and debt that have become all too commonplace since the days of President Ronald Reagan. Yes I know – they don’t recognize any debt or deficits before 2008 – you know – when that foreign born Kenyan socialist (communist) melanin enhanced fellow usurped our country’s government by declaring himself president. Please note the sarcasm - I support and voted for President Obama.

They say we have a spending problem that begins with the very programs that most of us have been paying a disproportionate share for since their inception. Let’s clear up one thing up front: these are already paid for entitlements and failure to honor them is the same as any fraud perpetrated by Bernie Madoff or Florida Governor Rick Scott when he was in charge of HCA.  Since the wealthiest of us get some relief from the payroll related taxes for Social Security and Medicare after they have banked the tidy sum of $106,800 in earnings. You have to be earning more than $51.35 per hour to earn that break – and the wealthiest of us are sending those jobs off shore where they can be compensated at an even lower rate and starving those programs of funds – as the pool of salaries for the less affluent is redistributed upward to the more affluent (definitely not socialism!). A large part of compensation to the wealthiest has also magically become investment income instead of salaries or wages and therefore the payroll taxes do not apply.

Well since the moneyed class seems to be doing very well these days as, evidenced by the news that more luxury items are flying off the shelves than ever before, perhaps they can kick in a few extra bucks to help pay for the deficits and debt that threaten our future. Perhaps the industries and corporations that benefit from doing business in the United States can give up a few of the tax breaks they’ve enjoyed and which never seem to trickle down to the consumer can build some goodwill for the future. Perhaps these same companies – with the same rights that I enjoy (maybe a little less since the Patriot Act)  - can pay their taxes instead of finding creative ways not to.

What’s that? The yell of the wounded orange-hued Speaker of the House and his evil laryngeal prominence enhanced troll Majority Leader and their human-turtle hybrid sidekick Senate Minority Leader say “HELL NO! We cannot ask of these mythical job creators share in the solution to the problems we’ve created within our lifetimes. No. Let the poor and middle class – who are already used to sacrificing do more sacrificing (along with their future progeny)”.

So if the upper 2%, corporations, GOP and Tea-Partiers don’t see this as a shared problem to be fixed with a shared solution that includes more revenue – why do they care about my kids and grandchildren? Are they afraid that their future generations will eventually understand the problem is shared and act like the grownups their parents and grandparents couldn’t? Their kids would want to be part of the solution instead of the problem? Perhaps they are just wishing for the USA to crumble under this debt so that their family and corporate fortunes can be taken into their new Eden – the Free Trade Agreement-land in the Global Economy.  

If Government doesn't create jobs how can tax policy?

The simple truth:  jobs are not created by tax policy but by demand.

As long as big business continues to make record profits while cutting their workforce and as long as those governing and running big business are able to pillage their companies through unjustifiable compensations there will be no corporate behavioral change.

As long as there are enough politicians willing to enable corporate malfeasance through the crippling of regulations and oversight while collecting huge amounts of money and aid through corporate lobbyist, Super-PACs and campaign contributions there is little we can expect in corporate behavioral change.

We have been sold out to corporations that know there is no way we can feed ourselves from home based gardens or the remaining family farms that are not already wedded to a corporate master.

Big business believes that there are now enough politicians in place that have little or no regard for the future of unions that they can now intimidate their workforce into a future compliant to only corporate goals. Give corporate treasuries and those that control them more or we will off shore your job and future. In fact there are so many openly anti-union politicians in place we see huge gambits being played to permanently tilt the playing field into the corners of the corporatist.

Eric Cantor – the bottom feeding Majority Leader in the House of Representatives says of the recent profiteering by airlines as “I guess that’s what businesses do…” while the FAA was unfunded (by his majority over unionization rights) and not collecting the taxes which the airlines continued to collect and pocket.

The day will come when big business wakes up to find that the profits are drying up due to the fact that no one can afford to buy their goods and services since the jobless can’t afford them any longer. Henry Ford – no bleeding heart liberal - realized that he could make more money in volume sales by giving his workforce the ability to afford the cars which they were making. Only if there more Fords in today’s boardrooms and executive offices the problems might not seem so insurmountable.

Welcome to the down-grade - your share of the deficit just went up

Peace Planetologist
S&P downgrades US debt - "Nobody I have known of has been more wrong than them." - Rep. Barney Frank | Rachel Maddow
So now is the time to watch for the ultimate GOP and Tea Party hypocrisy as they point fingers at the Democrats for the downgrade. The fact that they drove what should have been a fairly straightforward process to the point of default causing unnecessary stress and calling the world’s attention to the fact that we are now governed by political hostage takers instead of men and women that can sit down and come to a reasonable solution for the problems we face together. This again will prove that they are unworthy of any support in the future as they will demonstrate the limited historical memory and their entire belief that nobody understands the situation as well as they do. They have through their complete disregard for anyone else’s opinion taken more money out of an already stressed economy by making it more costly for this country to do what it must.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

No excuses for not supporting the President

Last December President Obama rewarded the GOP hostage takers by giving in to their demands in exchange for unemployment benefits for those hurt by the Bush recession.  This was meant to spare them some of the pain that their continued long term unemployment was inflicting upon them even as the wealthiest of us continued to collect a disproportionate benefit and agitate for even lower tax burdens –which are at their lowest level in our lifetimes. Yes there will be liars who will play statistical games to fit their arguments but as more of the country’s wealth was being concentrated at the upper end it was being taxed at a lower rate than if the wealth was more fairly distributed.

Today the GOP & Tea Holes are employing the same strategy to force the President & over 70% of the population into their fix for the economy.  Their solution defies the opinion of many economists - the fix can't be accomplished through reduced spending alone - the math just doesn't work.  In addition it would mean reneging on the promise of Social Security & Medicare we've made to all. The GOP & DEMS should want to avoid this for many reasons that would appeal to both their senses but seem hell bound to further afflict the poor, sick and/or elderly with hardships caused by the economy devastated by those whom have already benefited by help from our Treasury. If we can help the banks & investment houses – the playgrounds of the rich and idle rich – why can’t we help real people?

 So today the GOP & Tea Holes believe that they only have to stay the course & our President will once again capitulate. The President has only himself to blame for this situation because of his earlier cave-ins.  In addition, the report of his comment to the traitor Eric Cantor to “not call my bluff” can only add to the GOP’s confidence in their chosen strategy.  At this point I’d like to say to all concerned it is immoral to use people as the means to their ends.

Today the unemployment benefits are largely expired & the taxes we so badly need are untouchable for at least a year. The Tea Holes have been so empowered by the mismanagement of the situation by both the White House and John Boehner that they have made a Constitutional amendment forcing balanced budgets a condition to their agreement to raise the debt ceiling.  Meanwhile, the White House once again removed a bargaining position early – the 14th Amendment – from consideration – for why? 

 In hindsight we would call this a lose-lose situation. The pain the President tried to avoid in December will be felt by the ever expanding number of unemployed and any help- in the way of restored revenues is still going into the banks of the non-job creators. 

The President's base may not be happy about this situation but this is not a call to abandon him. Many of us – me included – have been outspoken about our dissatisfaction with these events.  However, I have not forgotten why I voted for him – the situation with which we were faced required a higher intellect than the C-student that ran the previous administration – an intellect that was evidenced by Barack Obama’s resume. I'm counting on this now & hope he is doing what should/can be done.  I don't like the reports about the various "deals" - it leaves me unsure about where our country is going in the long term & how we take care of our own. However, we should remember that President Barack Obama is doing better by us than the McCain-Palin option - perhaps setting Grandma off on an ice flow instead of facing fictitious "death panels" that Sarah Palin lied so happily about.

But if your support for our President is still lagging remember what has transpired with the Supreme Court's recent decisions. We need to have President Obama re-elected & strengthened by a Democratic Congress to protect our basic freedoms from further erosion. Yes I get mad about what’s going on too but I think I would be really dumb to let emotions get in the way of our freedoms.

Support the President, vote Democratic & call out the BS when & where you see or hear it. - Fortitude my friends!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do we have a Democratic or Republican Problem?

Let me see if I have my recent history correct... 

President Obama is elected to lead our country out of the mess created by a Congress that basically laid down to the wishes of the corporate & wealthy classes served by George Bush and initiated by Reagan. However, before the new President can proceed he is tarred as the most liberal possibly socialist man to hold the office & the GOP decides to block his every effort.

The GOP used every trick to delay any proven progressive move and was aided by the conservative media in misrepresenting programs & demonizing our President. They were successful for a number of reasons whether they were in the majority or the minority.  

Now after a mid-term election where the GOP promised to change things & create jobs to win the majority in the House - they have delivered little in jobs or relief for anyone except George Bush's base. The only other thing they have been successful at since November 2010 is how often they can repeat that “tax increases are off the table”, “we have a spending problem”, “government, civil servants, the poor, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security are why we are in trouble” and demagoguing the Democrats for demogoguing their intention to kill Medicare as we know it.

The wealthy are busy buying the protection they think they need from the GOP while sitting on their profits by working us harder for less remuneration & eliminating President Obama as a byproduct.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day & Dancing

I read about the arrest at the Jefferson Memorial and watched the videos. Thank god there are so many cameras around to keep the police from employing excessively harsh tactics in dealing with peaceful protesters. Too bad we can't equip them with a working brain that can tell the difference between a public safety menace and people peacefully gathering to call attention to an issue. At any rate, just in case the Huffington Post moderators take exception to my post here it is...

I keep hearing, from conservatives and those who are happy sticking their heads in the sand enduring the status quo, that we should honor those in the military for defending our country and the rights we hold dear. I do salute those that take the orders, stand in harm’s way and that have served our country's ideals but I question whether they are just pawns being moved and sacrificed at the whims of business interest, oligarchs and politicians that willingly pay lip service to peace. There's been way too much warfare in my life time and way too little peacemaking - I wonder just how that would be?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Loved the President's Correspondents' Dinner Moment

Here’s another in my series of posts that did not meet the lofty ideals and rules of decorum set by and for people that still waste time visiting The Huffington Post:

These comments have been expanded and improved as I need not concern myself about meeting someone else’s capriciously enforced standards. 

In a moment of tongue in cheek during the Correspondents’ Dinner, the President outlined all the reasons that Donald Trump will never be elected and is not a serious candidate, even in his own combed-over mind. When the camera was focused on Trump one could almost see the resentment radiating from him until the showman that he fancies himself to be begrudgingly sent a hint of a smile to his lips and a feeble wave to our President. Even though he deserved a bigger beating for his recent behavior the President delivered a suitable can of whoop-ass to placate his supporters.

I can't let the camera shot of Bill O'Reilly go without comment. The President's healthcare plan may pay for the surgery to remove whatever he has lodged in his butt. Seriously, we need to have O'Reilly go through a good Trumping so that he can follow Beck into "retirement".

Saturday, April 30, 2011

OK - Come and get me

It’s the day after the so-called fairytale wedding of Prince William and Kate – sorry Catherine Middleton - and the real world has not gotten any better. Without a doubt the supposed happy ending for the newlyweds cannot ever be worse than what many of my fellow countrymen have been forced to endure day in and day out for a period way too long. I look at my young family and try to put my happy face on for them to mask the concerns I have for their futures in the short and long terms.

My daughter increasingly tells me that she is afraid to grow up. She doesn’t know what the future holds for her and she is scared. This breaks my heart because I feel like a part of her childhood is being stolen from her or I’m failing as a father – I don’t remember suffering this type of insecurity when I was eleven years old. Heck by this time in my life my father had passed and I had several newspaper routes and did yard work around our neighborhood. Unlike the Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, my aspirations are not for my kids to have to go to work early.

In fact, so much that allowed my family to stay together after my father’s untimely death is now under attack by people who may not understand the benefits programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have made. People who have been blessed not to have lived under circumstances that required the American social safety net may not understand that instead of five children that could have gone wrong in other times are now productive members of this society – paying taxes and bringing up another productive generation of Americans.

I’d like to point out to anyone reading this that considers themselves a conservative or Tea Partier that even though I consider myself to be a bleeding heart liberal progressive with socialist tendencies – that I am the only one of that ilk from my family. Even my Momma has Fox News on the tube during her waking hours. I may be the biggest horror in her life of disappointments but we are still family and I will always be thankful for our relationship. However, my point is that it isn’t just your opposition that benefits but many of your own tribe that do as well.

Enough background on me – I hope it may help you understand my perspective or at least give you something to make fun of – since when I make my views known and the debate ends I am often ridiculed for my appearance or weight. Yes, even this ugly old fatty has opinions and can debate them without wondering from where the next cheeseburger or Twinkie is coming.

Today I’d like to touch upon many areas that concern me – lightly now and more in depth later. Since my intent is to stake out my position on these topics I am open to discussion and challenges from any quarter. I am here not to educate you but to be educated by you; however, do not misunderstand or take offense if your argument does not end in conversion but a strengthening of my position.

Topic 1 – President Barack Obama
If you have read any of my Tweets or posts on Huffington Post (mostly) you may think I am a bit schizophrenic about our 44th President of the United States. Let me assure you that I supported him in 2008 and I will again in 2012. He hasn’t been exactly what I had hoped for when I cast my ballot but he is my President and the best person for the job in 2012. Yes I have criticized him and his administration – he deserves to hear from his supporters what they think without having to decipher meaning or intent.

Topic 2 – The Democratic Party
I believe there are better days to come from and for the Democratic Party. There are certain Democratic politicians that seem to be working against the values I hold but I do not see how I can make this party better from the outside than from the inside. I also understand that in our current political environment that it is a numbers game – so since the Republicans have once again unmasked themselves for the corporate fools they are I will support the Democrat in the general election.

Topic 3 – The Supreme Court
This once hallowed body has exposed itself to be just another politically driven entity. I cannot in good conscious support the Court as it is currently constituted. The positions that have to be spun by any nominee to gain Senate approval make it impossible for me to believe that any of these justices deserve the title and responsibility they hold. Of course I can again be accused of being a bit schizoid here but the conservatives on the court do seem to me immune to the brand of hypocrisy they display so often.

Topic 4 – The Economy (Stupid)
I think I’ve made my feelings about the social safety net known above. We should protect these programs with our lives since they mean life for so many disadvantaged. I think we need to get our fiscal house in order but not on the backs of the poor, sick, children and the elderly. Please try to imagine what your life would be like without these people – they are people – worthy – loving – valued and deserving. Too many believe the stereotype of the welfare queen or those that will not find a job because the government money and cheese is just too good – let me assure you they are a vast minority and deserve to be routed out – just don’t further injure the innocent in your quest to punish the cheaters.
Reform the tax code – it should be progressive – reasonable – and enforced. I’ve got a lot to say about this but if I get started now I won’t be able to say any more.
Unemployment Insurance – yes. One day or three years – yes. Again – a lot to say about this.
Too Big to Fail, Wall Street, Multinationals and Monopolies – all need to be addressed through regulation and divestiture – they need to be reminded that they exist to serve the public not suppress it.
Unionism - To kind of quote the Speaker of the House, John Boehner: “HELL YES!”
Insurance and Healthcare is again a topic I will go on and on about. My short answer is single payer.

I know this list seems kind of wild but there is so much more – I just don’t want to lose the steam and I feel like that’s what’s happening now. Let me leave off with just one last thought. I believe that being a progressive liberal means to be in touch with life at all levels in our society and to fight the good fight for those that can’t defend themselves – to be a part of something bigger than myself and my family. If what it takes to correct the problems of the United States means furthering the discomfort of the afflicted, poor, children and elderly then perhaps we as a nation have lost the vision that was put to paper by our founding fathers and there is little hope of ever regaining the greatness we once knew and the rest of the world envied. I hope we all can get through these trying times together with goodwill and understanding. Life is too short.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Reaction to DeNiro's Comment

I do not have a major disagreement with Robert DeNiro's statement - just that it really doesn't get to the root of the problem. In fact, his assessment that this is largely a Republican problem seems spot on to me. My comments to the piece reported on the Huffington Post follows:

For me the bottom line isn't the Trumps of this world. Trump is merely repeating the behavior that has become all too common on both sides of the aisle. We make statements that we do not mean "to be factual" hoping that some of the malice will adhere itself to the intended target and that there are suitably large numbers of people simpleminded enough to grab onto it as the truth.

Once upon a time we had a media that was governed by a measure of journalistic integrity that would both ignore these pronouncements and not give them any traction by allowing them the same weight as truly factual comments. A media when faced with outright lies and misleading commentary by the political ruling class or their big business overlords would shine the light of truth upon it. Today, sadly, the media has been taken over by the same overlords and we get the false equivalencies fed to us over and over again.

Today we do have a way to combat some of this with information gained from other sources and the common sense that we all possess - even if it is weakened from under use. We can also become more active in demonstrating our support for American ideals - new and old - through activism - yet another quality that has atrophied since the 60's and 70's.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The deficit of compassion

Can you name one wasteful sacred cow program the Democrats are supporting? In fact they acknowledged that all waste must be cut out of the budget and government. This is viewed by the Republicans as a weakness in the Democratic caucus.

On the other hand, the Republicans can only sing the song of cutting social spending to the bone while handing out additional job killing tax cuts to the wealthiest of families & further exemptions to taxes for the big businesses they refer to as small business. Additionally, Republicans support additional savings and relief to the wealthy/big business by relaxing regulations and defunding the IRS so there are fewer agents to conduct audits that have recently focused on the wealthy.  So I can name some of the sacred cows of the Republicans: Koch Bros., Koch Industries, GE, Offense Contractors etc. At the same moment let me name some of the lambs they would slaughter: Head Start, healthcare for the poor, elderly, handicapped and children, school lunches, Social Security, family planning, PBS and anything that has a socialist tinge to it in their minds.

What is Trump's game?

Mr. Trump is one of "those" people that long for the days of old when "those other people" could be kept from voting by various tests - land ownership, sex or literacy. Since those tests could not prevent the election of Barack Obama the new test is the "birther question" and the requirement that this president be the first to be compelled by a tiny minority to prove to them that which they will never accept. Their claims to irrational theories surrounding this man's birth and the slandering of his parents by people such as Rush Limbaugh have led to many of the problems and distractions that plague this nation during a time of trials like no other in our life times.

I suspect that Trump's game has nothing to do with an actual candidacy because if it did he would just jump in and accrue for himself the benefits of getting the early start on the rest of the pack. I think his motives are simpler - promotion for him and his other money making efforts - which have not been hurt by President Obama's election. This is sad since it is so cynical and hurtful to the nation at this time.

So who is the real American and who is the Capitalist? American ideals are not necessarily capitalist as many of the 2 percenters would have you believe.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tucker & TDC get slopply seconds...

Whoa, just a minute! Without a doubt Tucker Carlson should never be mistaken for someone who hasn't made a name for himself and taken a few punches but ended up on his feet. Just because he had the good fortune to come from a $ucce$$ful family he is obviously not the product of the type of affirmative action usually reserved for George Bush types.

So when I hear that Gini Thomas is joining his little club of out of touch children looking for something to do while waiting for their check from their trust fund, I wonder how they can possibly afford to pay her her going rate? Is this just another ploy for the rich and the Koch to funnel money to the accounts of a loyal tea baggist for the services she renders them by keeping one of their favorite jurist in line?

I can hardly wait for the next disclosure report dear Clarence has to file to see if his wife's value has increased or did she lose some of her value by making too many phone calls? Assuming of course that Justice Thomas remembers that she is a breadwinner in their house too and dutifully and accurately reports every last quarter she earns.