1sunfight’s Weblog

February 27, 2010

Revolutions Have Been Started Over Less

“Let them eat cake!” quipped Marie Antoinette concerning bread shortages in France.   There were bread shortages at the time of a financial crisis and an unfair tax system that favored nobility making France ripe for revolution.  Sound familiar?

It is clear that Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky did not learn anything from history.  It is clear that he does not know the phrase, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  However, it is not just his lack of knowledge, or comprehension of history that is most troubling, it is his partisanship and ego that are.  After being an obstructionist on the floor of the Senate on Friday and after getting called out for it Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky was heard uttering the words, “Tough shit.”

What happened on the floor of the US Senate on Friday is very disturbing, especially for those who rely on federal, not state, unemployment benefits to help pay their bills until they can find a job, and/or those who have COBRA insurance, which is health insurance for the laid off and unemployed.   Senator Jim Bunning blocked a bill that would provide an additional 30 days of extended benefits to the unemployed and COBRA recipients.

Now why would Republican Jim Bunning do such a thing?  Could it be that he is that partisan, that his ego is that large, or is it because he hates President Obama?  Answer: all three.

He has served in both Houses for twenty three years, currently serving as a US Senator, that means he served under former president Bush, so I wonder why the poor memory?  Currently he is demanding that a way be found to pay for the 30 day extension of benefits.  He claims to be outraged with the amount of money being spent in Washington DC these days.  He is angry with President Obama for the amount of debt that was incurred in the last two years of the Bush Administration and is blaming Obama for it.  Senator Jim Bunning seems to have a poor memory of signing, year after year, a blank check to finance the war in Iraq, a war that was started on a string of lies. Wars are not cheap either.  He also has a poor memory of former president Bush spending huge sums of Medicare money on Big Business and Unions; even though both told him they did not want or need the money.   Senator Bunning is an angry old man with an ax to grind with President Obama simply because he does not like him.  Senator Jim Bunning has been heard referring to President Obama as “your president”, thus disowning him.

Here is the outcome of Senator Jim Bunning’s actions: starting Monday, March 1st, the jobless will no longer be able to apply for federal unemployment benefits or COBRA health insurance subsidy.  Because the Senate did not act, (read Jim Bunning) the jobless will now stop getting checks once they run out of their state benefits or current tier of federal benefits.

That could be devastating to the unemployed who were counting on that for income.  In total, more than one million people could stop getting checks next month, with nearly 5 million running out of benefits by June, according to the National Unemployment Law Project.

All week Republican Senator Jim Bunning blocked a 30 day extension on unemployment benefits.  The Senate will not return for a vote on this until Tuesday.

The national unemployment rate currently stands at 9.7% and is expected to remain that high for the rest of the year and is not expected to drop to 6.6% or 7.5% until 2012.  The unemployment rate is not expected to drop to 5.8% until seven years from now.   Republican Jim Bunning was confronted on the floor of the Senate with these facts and the unemployment rate of each state, which is when he  was heard saying, “Tough shit.”

Really, Jim, tough shit?  Jim, there are millions of unemployed people in the country right now and you just took away the only means many have for getting themselves through an economic tough time.  I am one of them.  Jim, I am going to point out to you the figure where 5 million people will run out unemployment benefits by June if there is not any further assistance.  That is 5 million angry people with a motive to start a revolution and it will start at your home and office, since you are the sole cause of it.  You see, Jim, someone like me relies on unemployment to help pay the rent and car note, while my savings pays for food, utilities, and other hidden expenses.  I do not have COBRA at this time because I cannot afford it.  I need to pay for my car, so I can look for a job.  Health insurance, which I need, right now is a luxury.  I can also tell you about my unemployed friend who has Lupus needs COBRA, so she can get medical treatment for her illness.  Her COBRA health insurance costs her $1,200 a month for her and her husband, and that is with the break provided for in the stimulus plan.  But, in your mind it is, “Tough shit.”  Well, Jim, it will be tough shit for you when the angry mob with a motive turns up at your door.  I will not tolerate being a pawn in your game of brinkmanship with President Obama, just because you do not like him.  Your hatred is going to throw me, and people like me on to the street, and it is going to kill my friend, murderer.

Sen. Jim Bunning holds floor: ‘Tough s–t’

Jobless Benefits Start Ending on Sunday

How Bush Bankrupted America

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February 26, 2010

The Rights of the Many

Filed under: politics — eartothaground @ 11:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday’s meeting at Blair House did one thing for me: it elucidated the difference between Democrats and Republicans.  It wasn’t the “blank sheet of paper” versus “we’ve got a few things in common” line, though.  It was the fundamental philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans about the first sentence in the Constitution of the United States.

“We the People, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The Democratic Party appeared to be pushing an interpretation that “we the people” does indeed include all citizens and legal residents of the United States.  The Republican Party, however, appeared not to have such an inclusive interpretation.  While their conversation and Congressman Joe Wilson’s infamous outburst make clear their feelings about illegal immigrants, they also appear to have shifted their definition from individual citizens to individual (which includes corporations, thanks to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling) donors to their campaigns.  Unfortunately, the poor and uninsured don’t tend to rank among rank and file Republicans, so their interests do not coincide.

Further down the preamble, beyond the clause to “establish justice” by making healthcare available and affordable; beyond the clause to “insure domestic tranquility” by making sure that end of life counseling is provided for terminal patients and their families and not mischaracterized as “death panels” by insurance lobbyists and elected representatives; beyond even the clause to “provide for the common defense” by making sure each individual has as much protection from biological ruin, catastrophic illness, economic pillaging, or health-insurer abandonment as is possible; Democrats began and ended the summit standing firmly on the clause which says that the government of the United States has a responsibility to “promote the general welfare.”

The Democratic Party, in this instance, is basing its approach to healthcare as a basic right guaranteed to each citizen and legal resident by the Constitution of the United States.  This doesn’t mean that the government is everyone’s doctor.  This means that, as the President noted yesterday, “we have meat inspectors to make sure the food is good,” the government has a responsibility to make sure everyone has access to health care.  The Republican Party, in this instance, is arguing the opposite.  For them, healthcare is a privilege (that they can afford, so why bother?)  They are, then, not attempting to “form a more perfect union,” because they aren’t worried about their fellows.

My healthcare is just fine.  My family is covered, and thank God those members of my extended family who don’t have it are covered by those who do.  But the larger picture is that it’s not just about me and mine, as the Republican argument has developed.  “Promoting the general welfare” means that I am concerned about the needs of other people, too.

Healthcare, like a good education, isn’t a privilege you’re entitled to only if you can pay for it.  It’s a right written right into the first sentence of the document that governs our country.  It’s nice to know that some people who work on Pennsylvania Avenue know that.

To repeat, the CBO found that premiums go down under health-reform

Obama to GOP: It’s Over

WH and Dems Should Send the Message: Health Means Life; Health Means Freedom

Statements about Health Care

Health-Care Summit Starts With Discussion of Facts, Not Policy

Let’s hope health summit wasn’t a fraud

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Tastes Great! Less Filling!

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February 24, 2010

Then and Now

In late January of 2009 I lost my job.  It is one year later and I am still looking for work.  Of course, I am not happy about it, especially with having put myself through college a little later in life.  I was and still am expecting a little more from my degree than what I have been getting.  I switched careers right after Bush, Jr.’s recession earlier in the decade, there were still a lot of people out of work, so I had a hard time finding a professional career, but after searching doggedly from 2003 to 2006 I did find one.  In that time I did have a false start at a company that was run by two brothers who were brilliant businessmen, but two of the worst managers I have ever worked for, so with that experience in mind I trudge forward with a wary eye over my shoulder.  I look to the past for guidance in the present and the future.  Right now my experience is telling me to go back to restaurant work, like I did for a while and keep getting ready for tomorrow.

I see in the present high unemployment, but still not as high as it was when I first graduated from high school in 1981.  Two years after I graduated from high school the unemployment rate went from 7.4% to 10.8% in 1982.   Back then I was living at home with my parents, so having a job didn’t mean to me what it means to me now.  Of course now the unemployment rate is 9.7%, down from 10.2%, which is too high.  It was 7.6% in January of 2009, but it spiked immediately after that, the full impact of a near financial collapse of our banking system was taking affect.

Back then inflation skyrocketed.  It was high while I was in high school in the late 70’s and early 80’s, inflation peaked in 1981.  Interest rates were outrageous.  I can remember reading and seeing interest rates for homes as high as 25%.  The official interest for the period is 13.5%.  A person never knew how much anything would cost the next day.  We are not experiencing runaway inflation today, like we did back then, in spite of George W. Bush’s free spending ways in both of his terms, or the bank bailout, or the stimulus spending act, except by the alarmists.  There are always gloom and doomers.  Back then there was a lot of spending going on to help spur the economy; it was called the arms race with the former Soviet Union.  Back then we went from a creditor nation to a debtor nation.  We did not reverse that until status until the mid to late 1990’s. In fact, we had a surplus in 2000.  It was then reversed starting in 2002.

Back then we weren’t fighting a two front war, nor were did we come to the near financial collapse like what we faced in late 2008 through early 2009.  Back then what was needed was to break the back of inflation.  Steps were taken to do just that, and like then a lot of people lost their jobs.  Back then the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the President of the United States were called job killers.  Back then the president’s approval ratings sank to 35% two years into his first term.  He lost 27 seats in the Houses of Congress.  Now the chairman of the federal reserve and the president of the United States are getting called  nearly the same thing and like back then, the president is facing losing seats in both Houses, even with approval ratings at 49%, which are significantly lower than his honeymoon period of a year ago when it 79%, but 49% is still better than back then.  Back then by the time the 1984 election rolled around people thought the president would lose, like what is being said now about our current president for a race that is nearly three years off.

By 1984 the unemployment rate sank to 7.2% winning the president another term.  Unemployment ran high through most of that president’s two terms.  It averaged 7.5% over his two terms.  (In 1986, after not being able to find stable employment, I moved to Atlanta and worked non-stop until a year ago.  I had no idea the unemployment was 7.0% in 1986.  I would not have made the move, if I knew then what I know now.  That recession caused me to relocate.)  Right now unemployment is expected to remain at 9.7% or 9.5% and by 2012 elections fall somewhere between 6.6% and 7.5%.  Like back then and like back then unemployment is expected to not start approach what is thought to be full employment in six years.  Back then full employment was not achieved until 1989 and I suspect things will not be any different.  Back then we faced down an entire decade of cyclical inflation and recession, now we are facing down a decade of greed and ownership society.  We will move beyond this.  I believe this.

I write this for two reasons.  One I am out of work and looking for work in a flooded job market is emotionally trying.  I really do not want to return to the odd hours and hard work that restaurants offer, but I will if I have to.  I know it’s temporary.  The other reason is that today we forget our past, our recent past.  There are enough people walking around who remember back then, but I am afraid back then is remembered as the “good old days” and people being what they are will remember those days with a little bit more in focus.  I believe there is too much ill will being hurled at a human being who walked into the nation’s worst crisis since FDR walked into the Great Depression.

Paul Volker

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan Unemployment Rate.

Some Fed officials favor reeling in stimulus soon

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February 19, 2010

Showing Their True Colors

Filed under: Daily Observations,GOP,politics,Tea Party,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , ,

The Tea Party Movement has been a group of people who have been trying to position themselves as a group of people who are harkening back to the days of the Enlightenment in the run up to the American Revolution.  Not once did I believe them.  They have come across as angry, hate filled people with an extremist agenda.  In Washington this week they exposed themselves for just that, angry and hate filled.  The Tea Party exposed themselves not as the American Patriots they claim they are, but the out of control megalomaniacs of 1930’s Germany.

For years I have been adamantly warning people about the right wings tactics being used on the right visa vie McCarthyism.  They cry Marxist, socialist, and communist at everything they disagree with and launch hyperbolic hate campaigns at those they disagree with.  FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Johnny Come Lately – Glenn Beck have been trumpeting the McCarthyism of the 21st Century.  They have bleated and brayed for some time, then the de facto leader was plucked from obscurity and began her meteoric rise to the top of the McCarthyist pile with her “Obama is a Marxist” or “Obama is a Terrorist” speeches.  Sarah Palin does nothing more than preach and incite hatred.  She is not a patriot.  She offers no solutions.  All Sarah Palin offers is hate filled rhetoric and divides.  She preaches to the minions that she is a victim and so are they.  Sarah Palin has provided that last element needed to stir up megalomania on the right.

The Tea Party claims they are against the perceived out of control spending in Washington DC.  It is impossible to believe this when there had been out of control spending going on in Washington DC under former president Bush for the entire eight years he was in office.  There have been dozens and dozens of articles written about Bush’s lack of fiscal conservatism by Reagan Republicans that can be found on the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation websites.  (The Cato Institute is the nation’s leading libertarian think tank and the Heritage Foundation is the nation’s leading conservative think tank.)  So their claim of wanting fiscal responsibility back rings hollow and false.  What it comes down to is the disenfranchised right have been seduced by the siren song of the McCarthyists long enough that since they lost the 2008 presidential election to a centrist black man and lost both Houses of Congress to liberals, they have been duped into becoming the McCarthyist’s Brown Shirts and have showed their colors this week in the state of Washington at a Tea Party rally.

At the rally a Tea Party organizer called for the hanging of a Democratic senator.  Organizer Diane Capps is quoted saying the following about US Senator Patty Murray:

“How many of you watched the movie Lonesome Dove?”  Capps asked the crowd.  “What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd?  What happened when he ran with the wrong crowd?  He got hung, and that’s what I want to do with Patty Murray.”

The Tea Party is now calling for lynching.  Yes, lynching, also known as murder.  Murdering people they disagree with.  Murdering the opposition over political differences.  How patriotic.  How totalitarian.  How Hitleresque.

Since Ms. Capps is claiming that her words are taken out of context, here is the link to the video of her making those comments:  http://www.klewtv.com/news/local/84743992.html?video=YHI&t=a Here you can listen to her say those very words, uncensored and in their entirety.

This is the movement that had held a conservative litmus test for Republicans running in Upstate New York’s congressional race this past fall, a litmus test that was lead by none other than Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin.  They lost that one, but they won recently in Massachusetts.  Yes, they are proud of the victory.  Senator Brown now proudly displays the number 41, because that makes him the 41st Republican senator, so he can block bills and be an obstructionist.  Of course, the Tea Party isn’t through with the Republican Party.  They are going after Charlie Crist in Florida too.  He does not meet their conservative litmus test.  The Tea Party is trying to take over a legitimate political party with megalomania extremism.  As if the Republican Party did not become extreme enough under former president Bush.

So the Tea Party has shown their true colors.  The Tea Party has started using litmus tests to take over one party and calling for the murder of the other party.  Dangerous megalomaniacs, not patriots.

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A Bad Taste In My Mouth

Filed under: politics — eartothaground @ 6:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

President Obama met today with the Dalai Lama, over the strenuous objections of the People’s Republic of China.  Then he put out a weak statement that said in part “The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China.”  At once, he asserted the United States’ moral standing by acknowledging the oppression in Tibet, and acquiesced to China’s emerging financial dominance and their role in global affairs on the UN Security Council and beyond.

How does crow taste?

There is no way to directly approach China’s human rights violations or its invasion of Tibet while Guantanamo Bay is still open and we still have armed forces in Iraq.  There isn’t a way to meet with the Dalai Lama and still play nice with the boot on his people’s neck.  This is another place where the moral high ground has been eroded, where the ideals that we espouse have become whispers, where the mountain of debt that we’ve created as a nation is crushing the values upon which we’re built.

Yes, President Bush and Vice-President Cheney left a nation confused and angered, bewildered and bedeviled.  But in these small moments are where Change is supposed to occur.  Acknowledging “Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China” is the have your cake and eat it too approach to diplomacy.  Unfortunately, that cake tastes like oppression, tastes like moral ambiguity, tastes like betrayal.

President Obama, it tastes like Bush.

Obama meets with Dalai Lama despite Chinese objections

Statement from the Press Secretary on the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

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February 18, 2010

FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER

Filed under: Free press,Mexico,War on drugs — Centella @ 7:33 pm

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.

Jules Renard (1864 – 1910)

Writing is not my profession. I am a Mexican lawyer who makes money working as a bureaucrat in my native country. However, I enjoy writing, and the only thing I like about my real life job is dealing with people, the rest of it is plain dull.

Julie invited me to write in her blog. We met through BBC and became good virtual friends, which is neat. Thanks to her, here I am, writing about issues and subjects that are important to me. So, I´ll start with Mexico.

For many people, it is tough to live here. Around 30 million of Mexicans live below the poverty line, there is great gap between the rich and the poor which becomes the source of social and economic inequality, and currently, the federal government is engaged in an ineffective “war” with the narcos (drug lords), that has produced lots of deaths, the detriment of the army forces and generalized insecurity.

Today, Ciudad Juárez is “land of no one”, a city immersed in blood and fear. Mexico City drowns in dirty water after a torrential rain because of lack of infrastructure in its sewage system. Many people fear about the lowering of the “remesas” that come from Mexican workers in the U.S., due to the economic crisis in that country. The political parties only care about power, not the people´s needs. And on and on…

It is harder to live in Mexico –or any developing country- when you have lived in a developed country. The main reason is that you know things could be better, if there were the willingness and compromise to do so. But usually, those in power (political/economic) don´t want change; they are powerful and rich because of the status quo, so change is not suitable for them. I am aware that there is not such thing as the “perfect country”, but the gap between the developed and developing world is huge. I don´t know if the later would ever overcome the problems they face. Some countries have tried the “rampant capitalism” way, and clearly it has not worked; on the contrary, it only made things worse. So, I don´t think we can escape poverty and inequality. Not with the leaders and the system we have at the moment.

And then, there is the press. Although there are objective and brave reporters/editorialists that work in difficult -and sometimes dangerous- circumstances, there are others that perpetuates the status quo, the lies and the half truths that those in power feed the people in order to maintain –or regain- their credibility, specially regarding the “war on drugs”. I am still surprised when I read someone saying that this war is getting results, especially when you take into account the approximately 15,000 deaths related to it.

That is the greatness about blogging. You can write whatever you want, because in principle, you are not looking to make a buck out of it or get the recognition of the powerful. I bet many people that blog make their money doing dull stuff like me and, at one point in the middle of one of those boring days, they decided to write because they enjoy it, without the feeling of coming across as ridiculous.

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February 17, 2010

Getting the JOB done

Filed under: Bush,Economics,Financial Crisis,GOP,Obama,politics — eartothaground @ 4:09 pm
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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is literally one year old today.  Despite the crowing of @johnboehner and House Republicans, or Senator John Cornyn who speaks out of both sides of his mouth, “it is not hypocritical for members of his party to tout projects funded by the federal stimulus project,“ the stimulation of the economy has and is continuing to work.

As I drive through Los Angeles, I see lots of the signs, “This project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”  Those are jobs, people getting up and going to work funded by the stimulus.  Listening to the President this morning, and the governor of Wisconsin afterwards, there are millions of people who are working today that wouldn’t be if the ARRA hadn’t been passed.

It’s one thing to interpret the numbers.  It’s quite another to lie about the effectiveness of legislation because you don’t like it.  The President has a job, and he’s doing it.  The Recovery Act shows that Congress can do its job, or at least it has in the recent past.  And there are millions of other people who’s jobs depend on them both continuing in that pattern.

Cornyn: It’s not hypocritical to tout stimulus

Stimulus Bill Worked

Judging Stimulus by Job Data Reveals Success

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February 13, 2010

The Party of No

Filed under: Daily Observations,GOP,Humor,Obama,politics — Julie P @ 5:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

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February 11, 2010

Time for Obama to go ‘gangsta’ on GOP

Filed under: Daily Observations,GOP,Obama,politics,Tea Party,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 7:48 pm
Tags: , , ,

“Time for Obama to go ‘gangsta’ on GOP,” begins Roland Martin’s column on CNN.  It struck me right between the eyes, because truer words had never been spoken.  After more than a year of hearing nothing one objection after another coming from the GOP it was long overdue for someone to stand up and say “enough!”  Mister President, say to the GOP, “enough!”

Roland went on to write:

“For me, I’m sick and tired of Democrats having power and being unwilling to use it.  I’ve always respected Republicans when they had because they were willing to use it and maybe apologize later.”

I agree with the sentiment, but I would like to add that Democrats are not afraid to have a public brawl, to debate issues publically unlike Republicans who follow Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment:

“Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

That commandment unifies the Party, and has the GOP walking in lockstep, which is good in some ways, but can gridlock government.  The Democrat’s brawling approach to government when faced with the unity of the GOP when the Democrats are in power creates gridlock as, but it has the added feature of making Democrats appear as if they cannot lead when they can.

Solution?  Read on:

Roland went on to write about how Republicans were blocking many of Obama’s appointments by taking aggressive measures.

President Obama was quoted as saying this concerning his appointments:

“In our meeting, I asked the congressional leadership to put a stop to these holds in which nominees for critical jobs are denied for months.  Surely we can set aside partisanship and do what’s traditionally been done to confirm nominations.

If the Senate does not – and I made this very clear – if the Senate does not confirm these nominees, I will consider making recess appointments during the coming recess, because we can’t afford to allow politics to stand in the way of a well functioning government.”

Roland Martin commented:

“This is where the president needs to show his toughness and just do it.  Forget the threats.  The actions of Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, and other Republican obstructionists will continue if President Obama allows them to run roughshod over him.

If all of them choose to support a filibuster, then you take it to the American people and show the obstructionists for what they are.  You get your grass roots movement fired up to stand up and do something.  The political right used its base to go after Democrats who blocked appointments to the federal bench.  So why not be just as aggressive?”

Roland Martin added:

“Obama’s critics keep blasting him for Chicago-style politics.  So, fine.  Channel your inner Al Capone and go gangsta against your foes. Let ‘em know that if they aren’t with, they are against you, and will pay the price.”

Here is the thing.  Republicans like to and are good at playing and being the bully.  Instead of trying to play the nice guy on not only federal appointments, let’s make it about everything.  The Republicans are going to play the role of the obstructionist no matter what President Obama and the Democrats put forward.  The political right has a history of being obstructionist dating back to FDR.  If they want hardball give it to them, they are already doing it.  They have doing that since the instant Obama won the election.  It is long overdue for the grass roots base of Obama’s to unify.  The political right has been doing that for eons, and continues to do it recently with a bunch of ignorant rednecks via the “Tea Party” that has its own de facto redneck leader: Sarah Palin.  This may be the best way to break the obstructionist gridlock in DC and get the people’s business done.

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