Friday, December 31, 2010

The Constitution??

When the 112th Congress is sworn in and John Boehner becomes Weeper*...err…Speaker of the House, one of the first orders of business will include actually having the Constitution of the United States read aloud on the floor.  (

Many on the Right are touting this as a demonstration of their superior patriotism and some have even gone so far as to say things like the following, which came from the “Gun Owners of America”:

We will enjoy watching Nancy Pelosi’s face when the clerk reads the Constitution, since it may be the first time she’s ever heard it read. And hopefully the clerk will read it nice and slowly to let the words sink in,” said John Velleco, GOA’s Director of Federal Affairs.

Well…I have news for Mr. Velleco, the person whose face *I* will be watching will be that of our new Speaker, as he has shown that HE is the one who is clearly unaware of what is in the U. S. Constitution…

So perhaps the real reason that the Republicans are pulling this little gimmick of having the Constitution read on the floor of the House shortly after Boehner’s swearing in is to REMIND HIM WHAT IT SAYS, since the document he is quoting is the Declaration of Independence!!!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

9-11 First Responders

As Senate Republicans filibuster and refuse to let the extremely important Zadroga Bill come up for a vote, the squawking heads on Faux News had some pretty horrible things to say about the matter (read the article and see the video here:

These men who think that this "doesn't seem like a big deal" or that it's a "sentimental bill" or merely that it's "a heck of a time to be inventing new things to spend money on" should literally be made to watch this segment, that I consider to be one of the most moving and important segments of television that I’ve seen in a very long time. ( ) And then, after the Faux squawkers view it, every single Republican Senator that is standing against this bill should also be made to watch it…and perhaps their souls can grow back.

Then when they’re done watching that, they can read the story of Magda Ryan, the widow of a New York City firefighter who died last Christmas Day of the cancer that was caused by the toxins that he was breathing while working at Ground Zero. Magda will be marking the first anniversary of his death on the day that Republican Senators consider so “sacred” that they literally feel they shouldn't have to work anytime around it...even if that work is desperately needed to pass the bill that would help so many first responders who are sick from their service to our country during that horrible time, and their families.


Also, let us NOT forget that it was the Republicans that were fully in charge of all branches of government when 9/11 happened and therefore it was a Republican government that told everyone that the "air was safe to breathe" at Ground Zero.  These heroes went in to help, assured by their government that it was safe, and now that we can clearly see it was NOT safe, these sick heroes are being abandoned.  It is an atrocity. 

Those blocking this should all be ashamed of themselves, especially after the way that the Right has used 9/11 so regularly in the years since it occurred to whip up fear and anti-Muslim sentiment when it suited their purposes.

Call the Capitol and tell them that you want this important bill to pass. 202-225-3121

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Estate Tax

Who said the following: "The man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.”?




Kim Jong Il?

Surely it wasn’t a famous republican, right??


In an excellent op-ed by Tim Rutten in the L. A. Times today, he points out that Theodore Roosevelt, one of the more famous and beloved of Republican Presidents (and the speaker of the above gem), was also one of the first and most dedicated advocates for a strong and progressive estate tax. That’s right…the same one that his party in their current incarnation has renamed the “death tax” and has been railing against ever since. You know, the one they finally managed to seriously undercut in this BAD (for the country that is, not the wealthy/GOP) tax deal that the Republicans managed to blackmail out of Obama in exchange for allowing the nation's unemployed to not lose their only lifeline at Christmas.

Mr. Rutten makes a number of excellent points relating to wealth disparity and the new tax bill that President Obama just signed. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I decided to just link to that piece from here:

(And the rich get richer...)

Hmm....Estate Taxes, Conservation, love of nature, National Parks...
seems to me that if Teddy were alive today, he'd be a Democrat.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Whining

According to an article in Politico, Senators Jim DeMint (SC) and Jon Kyl (AZ) have both attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's religious dedication with accusations relating to the fact that they don't believe they should have to work in the days leading up to Christmas and the time between Christmas and New Years.

You can see all of what Senator Kyl had to say here for yourself in this video:

As far as Senator DeMint goes, he said the following to Politico:
( )
"We shouldn’t be jamming a major arms control treaty up against Christmas; it’s sacrilegious and disrespectful. What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year - they kept everybody here until [Christmas Eve] to force something down everybody's throat. I think Americans are sick of this."

No, Senator DeMint..what *I* am "sick of" is politicians like yourself who are SO damn over-privileged that they don't understand that MOST Americans get only ONE day off for Christmas (and some not even that). I don't feel sorry for you that you have to stay in Washington to finish the business that your party has been stalling on and delaying for months.  If you were really that terribly concerned about being able to have a lot of time off around the Christmas holidays, perhaps you shouldn't have stalled so much.  BUT, in fact you're STILL stalling and delaying even NOW as you whine about wanting to go home, while at the same time you're demanding that the full text of bills be read aloud on the Senate floor...something that will waste approximately 12 HOURS.

You claim to be upset that you and your staff won't be able to be home with their families for Christmas... Well Senator, there are thousands of American families who won't be together this Christmas because they're currently serving in two war zones halfway across the world, because YOU sent them there. So therefore are YOU "sacrilegious" for not getting them home for the holidays?  Was your party "sacrilegious" when you were the majority party back in the 90's and pulled the exact same thing...keeping congress in session leading up to Christmas and Easter, in order to get your way on various bills?

Even your fellow Republican, former congressman Joe Scarborough acknowledges that this current behavior is despicable and has said so, "It's offensive that people would use Christianity for political leverage with an argument that is so baseless that, I've gotta say, I'm breath is taken away."

"They need to just shut their mouth, they're embarrassing themselves."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obama Tax Cuts

As the Senate voted today on this atrocity of a tax bill, I re-read my posting from December 6th when President Obama first announced this "compromise" (that looks like all GOP "win" to me). 

As I read through the speech I wrote that I wish he had given (click here to read it if you have not) and thought about all those millionaires and billionaires that are going to be getting unneeded tax cuts, it made me feel a little sick.  I honestly don't understand where the outrage is. The American people, for the most part, seem to be just rolling over on this, and I don't understand why.  All polling before this terrible deal was reached showed that the majority of the American people were opposed to giving tax breaks to millionaires.  However, that's somehow exactly what we're stuck with.  The administration has managed to convince the majority of my countrymen that the Republicans would have been just FINE with actually allowing the poor and middle class lose their tax cuts come January first, and have unemployed families starving and homeless at Christmas...that the GOP had NO fear whatsoever that the American people would simply not tolerate such atrocities in order to give tax cuts to the super-rich.  I'm sorry...I simply don't believe that.  I honestly believe that had President Obama appealed to the American people in the way I wrote in that post, that the people WOULD have responded and would have forced the GOP to actually do the right thing for a change.  But that's not the way it played out, and I don't understand why the people are just accepting this.

Was it because the people are once again buying that whole "we HAVE to do this or the economy will collapse" thing that they pulled in order to get us to bail out AIG, Citibank and other companies that were "too big to fail" (but are now doing great and giving out huge bonuses again)?  Is it because President Obama brought out the beloved former President, Bill Clinton, to preach to the choir and counted on his popularity to pull the straying lambs back into the fold? Or is it because we are honestly SO desperate and frightened of what George Carlin called "the owners" of this country that we're willing to just give them whatever they want as long as we still get the crumbs they accidentally drop (because frankly, most of the bastards don't even toss the crumbs anymore)?

According to the New York Times, (click here for article) the bill passed with a tally of 81 to 19 and the vote played out like this...The 19 voting "No" were:

      Patrick Leahy (VT)
      Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
      Frank R. Lautenberg (NJ)
      Kay Hagan (NC)
      Carl Levin (MI)
      Russ Feingold (WI)
      Tom Harkin (IA)
      Byron Dorgan (ND)
      Mark Udall (CO)
      Tom Udall (NM)
      Jeff Bingaman (NM)
      Ron Wyden (OR)
      Jeff Merkley (OR)

      Bernie Sanders (VT)

      George Voinovich (OH)
      Jim DeMint (SC)
      Jeff Sessions (AL)
      Tom Coburn (OK)
      John Ensign (NV)
I especially want to thank Senators Sanders and Feingold for their stands on this matter, since they are the two Senators that I specifically addressed at the end of my December 6th post...thank you both for not letting me down, even though it didn't work.

I also thank all the other Democrats who voted against this bill. However, as I don't think the republicans voted no because they were opposed to giving tax cuts to millionaires/billionaires, but rather because they were against the unemployment extension (which the country actually DOES need) I won't thank them, because their motivations are warped and the fact that their warped motivations just happened to coincide with the correct vote was merely coincidental...sort of like being opposed to the KKK because you don't like the color of their sheets.

So, we're now likely stuck with this horribly bad (for everyone but the wealthy) deal and the man that I helped elect as President with so much hope has instead caved in to pressure from the very people who caused this entire mess in the first place, so there is no way out now. So all that's left is to wonder what the future will hold, so I've decided to engage in a little game of "I predict"...

I predict that these tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires will accomplish the EXACT same thing over the next two years as they have over the last 10...making rich people richer and poor people poorer and nothing more.  No new "jobs" (in fact, probably fewer jobs as the emboldened GOP cancels projects like the Wisconsin High Speed Rail and New Jersey Tunnel projects).  These tax cuts will, however, likely result in the need for further cuts in services, like education and other necessary programs.

I predict that it will do NOTHING to help the economy, but rather will hurt it badly, perhaps even sending us into another "Great Depression" unless other steps are taken.

I predict that the "payroll tax cuts" that are being given will only make the Social Security Fund that much more insolvent, therefore giving the GOP ammunition to once again try to "privatize" it once they're in majority control.

I predict that President Obama will absolutely be what the Republicans clearly said they were committed to making him..."a one-term President", and they've done it with his help. What I'm unsure about is whether we'll be stuck with another Republican president as a result (in which case, the country is pretty much done for) or whether Obama will be defeated in a primary and there's still a chance for another Democrat in the White House.

I hope that I'm wrong about all of that, but only time will tell.
Oh, and completely unrelated...I also predict that we will eventually end up leaving Afghanistan with our tail between our legs just like the former Soviet Union was forced to.  That area is not winnable and nations really need to stop wasting resources (and lives) there. 

Legalize For 2012

One year ago today, Jacki Rickert testified in support of AB554/SB368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act of Wisconsin at a hearing at the WI State Capitol in Madison where she literally begged for her medicine to be made legal.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass, and with the republicans having taken over the state house recently I don't hold out much hope for anything happening until possibly the next election year...

In case anyone who reads this blog doesn't already know, I am a very strong proponent of the legalization of cannabis. 

Although I would settle for just Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana as a start...personally I would actually favor legalization across the board with cannabis to be treated like (the far more dangerous) alcohol and tobacco.  (

In my opinion, like alcohol and tobacco it should be available for controlled sale only to adults with the same penalties for sales to minors as those other substances.  Also, it should of course be subject to sufficient taxation.  In my estimation, the legalization of marijuana under those parameters would not only generate massive tax revenue; the savings in law enforcement and incarceration costs would also be in the billions and I believe it would make it easier to control (ask the average 15 year old what would be easier for him to get, cigarettes or marijuana?). 

Personally, I believe that the legalization of marijuana could solve a good number of our nation's financial woes and possibly even generate enough left over to also pay for a National Health Service.  In addition to massive tax revenue and prohibition cost savings, legalization would also create private sector jobs in farming, processing, distribution, dispensaries, and numerous other fields. 

In the matter of Industrial Hemp, I don't really understand why it even IS illegal, as it does NOT have the THC content necessary in order to get one "high", even if you were to smoke an entire field of it. 

Well...let me clarify, I actually DO understand why it became illegal even though it used to be considered unAmerican and unpatriotic to NOT grow hemp.  It came about because a number of events all converged to begin the process which brought about the illegality of both industrial hemp as well as its cousin, cannabis sativa.  And it all comes down to the very same things that are responsible for plaguing our country today. 


Massive, intense greed from people who are already among the richest people in the country. 

The first element in the series of events was the appointment of Henry Anslinger as the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.  Then in 1936, experiments were being successfully conducted for the mechanical harvesting of hemp.  This development would have done for the processing of hemp what the cotton gin had done for the cotton industry.  It would make the production of hemp based products far easier, faster and more profitable.  The only problem was that some very powerful friends of Mr. Ansligner didn't want hemp production to be easier, for their own personal reasons.  First there was William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher that owned millions of acres of timberland and didn't really want his paper production undercut by hemp.  Then there was Mr. DuPont who was very close to patenting his newly created "wonder fabric"...nylon, which didn't want to have to compete with hemp either.  DuPont's banker, Andrew Mellon, was also financially invested as well as being actually related to Anslinger by marriage (Mellon had also literally appointed Anslinger to his post as head of the Bureau of Narcotics while Mellon was Secretary of the Treasury under Hoover).  So Mr. Anslinger, with help from the Hearst Newspapers and well-financed by DuPont and Mellon money, started a smear campaign filled with lies and misinformation in order to get both hemp and marijuana made illegal, over the strenuous objection of the American Medical Association who wanted this medicine to remain available to doctors and pharmacists. 

It is time for this valuable plant to once again be properly utilized...after all, our brains have special THC receptors for a reason.

"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country." ~ Thomas Jefferson


Recently, a strip club owner in Abbotsford, Wisconsin put up a sign on the door of his establishment...

I was, of course, horrified that in the 21st Century we still have this kind of idiocy happening in the United States of America. 

But then, I didn't understand this idiocy when I was turning six years old and my best friend's parents took him to the World's Fair on the same day as my birthday party.  "Why can't Leroy's parents take him to the World's Fair NEXT weekend?"  I cried.  It wasn't until I was much older that I came to understand that in 1965 little black boys just didn't go to the 6th birthday parties of little white girls.  So rather than have the day become a memory of exclusion and disappointment they took him to the fair, so the day became a good memory for him instead.  Now, as an adult, I'm so glad that his parents handled it that way for him.

I didn't understand it when I lived on the South Side of Chicago in 1968 when the area erupted into violence and fires when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assasinated.  And I sure as hell didn't understand last week when I saw a hate-filled children's video that I posted about. (Read it here)

Even as a child I honestly believed that long before I was this age we would have gotten over these old bitter hatreds.  I believed that I would soon see Dr. King's dream come to pass...

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."
I hope for that someday too, Martin, but apparently, it's STILL not yet. But I suppose the one bright spot is that we are getting closer, albeit slowly. Nowadays it is only the truly ignorant who are still possessed of that kind of hatred, and they are so demonstrably stupid that they give themselves away just on their spelling alone. Someone needs to point out to the bigot in Abbottsford that "NEGROES" is how the word is supposed to be spelled. And when you're trying to demonstrate that you are the one who holds the correct position on an issue, spelling counts...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Edwards vs. Westboro

I'm happy to say it has been reported that a "human buffer" of many counter-protesters were on the scene for the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards, to shield the Edwards family from the promised protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church.

According to a report by the Christian Science Monitor, although Westboro often turns out in sizable numbers when they make their hateful protests at the funerals of fallen American soldiers, for the Edwards funeral, they only managed to turn out five church members (two of whom were children), making them vastly outnumbered by the "human buffer" holding positive signs and singing Christmas carols. 

I'm always so glad when I see people standing up to these horrible Westboro people. 


Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont...that's who...

For the full transcript of Senator Bernie Sanders' speech that held the Senate floor for 8-1/2 hours yesterday, you can read it at his website:

Thank you, Bernie!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why, GOP...WHY??

Why is it that to a REPUBLICAN, helping 9/11 emergency responders who are now sick from their service pay to care for their resultant illnesses “costs too much”...

and extending unemployment for the desperate who are out of work through no fault of their own "costs too much"...

and giving people on Social Security and Disability $250 to make up for the lack of a Cost of Living increase "costs too much"…but somehow tax cuts for millionaires do NOT “cost too much”?

I guess to the GOP everything that is money that WOULD be infused DIRECTLY into the economy (as unemployment and funds to the disabled/elderly would) seems to be somehow unacceptable to them. They only want to invest in millionaires so that those millionaires in turn have more money to invest in China as they have for the last ten years.


I highly recommend that you do NOT watch this video:

But if you me, I'm sure the first thing you have to say is, "WOW!  I can't BELIEVE that people could be so warped and twisted as to raise their children to be like that!"  It's absolutely horrfying to me.

It makes me think of an old song from a popular Broadway musical turned award-winning movie, LONG ago...

In 1949, the popular songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein addressed the issues of racism and interracial relationships in the play, "South Pacific".  Both the original Broadway production and the subsequent film version earned numerous awards and accolades in addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. 

When the play first came out, as with everything that a certain sector of the population dislikes, the accusations of "communist agenda" and "indecency" surrounded the production initially.  Lawmakers in Georgia even introduced a bill banning entertainment with "an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow", and one even said that "a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life".  Although I'm sure THAT guy would probably LOVE the above video (hey...for all I know they're his grandchildren), I find it absolutely sickening. 

Pressured to remove the song from the show, it is said that, "the authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in."

In case you are completely unfamiliar with the plot, the story involves a young (white) sailor in love with an island girl and the racism they are facing.  The line that leads into this song is that racism is "not born in you! It happens after you’re born..."

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Why, oh why do people keep perpetuating this hatred?  I will just never understand. 


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Christian Founders

I believe that everyone who actually reads what I write here already knows that I absolutely love "The View".  I'm reasonably sure that I've made it clear on more than one occasion that I find it to be a truly excellent program...informative, entertaining, well-produced...everything a good panel discussion show should be. 

I truly envy the women sitting at that table and would give almost anything to be able to have their job.  Although I am certainly no Barbara Walters, nor am I anywhere CLOSE to having the talent of Whoopi Goldberg, and I certainly couldn't argue for the Right-wing perspective like Elizabeth...though I do acknowledge the importance of a voice like hers on a show like this (and MAN would I LOVE to have an opportunity to discuss some of these issues with her, I'm sure I'd have a great time with the argument)...but I know that I could do at least as well as Sherri Shepherd (personally, I think I'd be much better, because I'm NOT obsessed with fake hair, I know the world is NOT flat*, I understand that Jesus WAS poor, and I would NOT constantly be talking about "Jeffrey" or any other child for that matter, as I never had children). a serious fan of "The View", naturally I "liked" them on my Facebook and therefore get periodic status updates from them.  Also, on occasion, I have gone to their FB page and even posted on their wall
( as I felt compelled to do today.

Barbara made a comment during today's broadcast that "all" American Presidents had espoused their belief in Christianity.  So...I decided to put a post on their wall with a link to a page which includes plenty of quotes from various "Founding Fathers" (presidents among them, of course) that express negative statements regarding Christianity, as many of the "Founders" were not Christians, but Deists.

~  At that site, one can see quotes like the following: 
 "As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" ~ President John Adams 
"Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years?" ~ President John Adams
"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." ~ President John Adams
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology." ~ President Thomas Jefferson 
"Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself." ~ President Thomas Jefferson, in his private journal, Feb. 1800
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." ~ President James Madison

"The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession." ~ President Abraham Lincoln
"I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity." ~ Benjamin Franklin
But none of the Founders was as outspoken on the subject as Thomas Paine, author of "Common Sense" who said all the following:
"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half of the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind." 
"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

So, in the future whenever you hear someone talk about how America is a "Christian Nation" and how all of the founding fathers were devout Christians, remember this information and correct the person espousing that myth.

Oh and if anyone knows how to get me that gig on "The View"...PLEASE do let me know! ;)


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wrong Speech

The speech he gave...

The speech I wish he had given...

"My fellow Americans...I come before you tonight to ask your help.

I wanted to provide tax relief to 95% of the American people as I promised in the campaign, and that's what I intended to do.  However, the people who are the minority party tonight, but whom you decided to make the majority party come January (giving them extraordinary leverage) have decided to hold those tax cuts hostage along with holding back on extension of unemployment benefits, desperately needed by millions of our neighbors, friends and family members, unless we provide tax cuts to their millionaire and billionaire cohorts.

Let me repeat order to protect millionaires and billionaires from having to pay the VERY SAME TAX RATE that they paid during the very prosperous Clinton years, they are willing to allow YOUR tax rates to go up, effective January 1, as well as to allow over 2 million American families who desperately depend on their unemployment as their only source of income in these hard times, to lose that essential support, thereby plunging the economy into even further depression.  PLEASE...we cannot allow them to think that this is acceptable.

I have tried to get them to agree to the following proposal...

Extend unemployment benefits for 18 months and make the Bush era tax cuts permanent for all Americans on the first $250,000 of income.  In addition, we would temporarily extend those cuts for an additional two years on incomes between $250,000 and $1,000,000.  But, on those earning over $1,000,000 the tax rates will return to the Clinton era number...39%.

But they refused, calling this a "tax increase" on the "job creators".  I'd like to clear that up. 

First...this is NOT an increase, it is a simple return to the pre-Bush figure.  To call this a "tax increase" on their millionaires is as incorrect as it would be to accuse a store of "raising prices" because a special sale ended.  I'm sure that you all recall that during the Clinton years the economy was in terrific shape.  Everyone was  more prosperous and most of us were doing well.  Rather than a deficit as we currently have, the nation had a financial surplus.  The upper income folks were also doing quite well at that time.  The Clinton era rates were not burdensome, and are actually even far lower than the rates under even Republican Presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon.

But the soon-to-be-majority party will make no compromise when it comes to their wanting to make the rich, richer...after all, even former President Bush admitted that the super-rich are, for the Republican party, their "base". 

The Republican party is willing to allow your taxes to go up...the taxes of your friends, your family, your neighbors to go up, unless their millionaires get tax breaks larger than most of you earn in a year.  They are willing to allow millions of unemployed people to end up starving or CHRISTMAS, in order to blackmail me to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires at a cost of $700 BILLION dollars that the country cannot afford.  They SAY that they want "fiscal responsibility" and will only extend unemployment benefits if it is "paid for", but they want to give these tax breaks to billionaires on credit.

These people think that their priorities are YOUR priorities, but I don't believe that's true.  I believe that you know that the unemployed cannot have their only source of income cut off in the dead of winter, right before Christmas.  I believe that you know that the Middle Class of this country desperately needs their tax cuts made permanent.  And I believe that you know that millionaires and billionaires do not need to keep these tax cuts...which did not work in the way the Bush administration told you that they would.

The Bush administration put through tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and made you believe that with those tax cuts, the "job creators" (as they call them) would use that money to create more jobs for our country's economy.  But that didn't happen.  They didn't make those jobs.  The Bush economy consistently lost jobs as you watched your friends lose their livelihoods and watched corporate profit figures rise, as the wealthy hoarded the cuts they were given and just amassed more and more for themselves.  It is time for those cuts to end.

This is the proposal that I tried to get the Republicans to go along with, but of course they would make NO compromise whatsoever.  They believe that you gave them a "mandate" to demand that the richest 1% of this country get unneeded tax cuts.  That you're willing to give up your own tax cuts and let unemployment end for millions... in order to make sure that millionaires get more in a tax cut than the annual income of most of you.

Please...tell them they're wrong.  Please contact your Congressional Represenatives and Senators tomorrow and tell them that you want them to stop protecting 2% of the people at the expense of the other 98%.  That you want the middle class tax cuts made permanent.  That you want unemployment extended.  That although you are willing to allow the tax rates for those making between $250,000 - $1,000,000 to be temporarily extended for two more years, the time has come for the richest of the rich, those who benefit the most from all our nation offers, to simply pay the same rates that they did during the Clinton years.  That you want to go back to the times of budget surpluses and prosperity for the rest of the country, not just their super-rich base.

You can call the Capital switchboard at 1-800-839-5276 or call their district offices.  Send them an e-mail or even a written letter.  Please...tell them to stop playing games with our economy to keep helping the rich get richer as the middle class collapses. 

Together, we can do this.  Thank you and goodnight."

But...since that is not the speech that he gave I have a few messages for some folks in Washington...

Mr. President...I'm so fucking disappointed in you, I'm actually, literally heartbroken.

Senator Sanders...even though you're not from my state, I'm standing behind you if you really do filibuster this horrendous proposal in the Senate...good luck to you, sir...and thank you for both your speech on Saturday ( and for this filibuster if you choose to do it.

Senator Feingold...I respect you more than anyone else in politics and I ask that you stand with Senator Sanders in this filibuster. You have nothing to lose...the same people who are doing this to our country have already stolen your seat from you, sir.  Please...make this one last, strong stand for the American middle class...before it's gone...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wealth Gap

Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent-Vermont gave this extraordinary speech on the Senate floor today...

Here is the transcript in case you’d like to read along or would rather just read the speech than view the video:

SENATOR SANDERS:  Mr. President, there is a war going on in this country, and I’m not referring to the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan, but I’m talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States of America, against the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country. The reality is that many of the nation’s billionaires are on the warpath, they want more, more, more. Their greed has no end and apparently there is very little concern for our country or for the people of this country if it gets in the way of the accumulation of more and more wealth and more and more power.

Mr. President, in the year 2007 the top 1% of all income earners in the United States made 23-1/2% of all income. Top 1% earned 23-1/2% of all income, more than the entire bottom 50%. That’s apparently not enough. The percentage of income going to the top 1% nearly tripled since the 1970’s. In the mid 1970’s the top 1% earned about 8% of all income, in the 1980’s that figure jumped to 14%. In the late 1990’s that 1% earned about 19% and today as the middle class collapses, the top1% earns 23% of all income, more than the bottom 50%.

Today, if you can believe it, the top 1/10th of 1% earns about 12 cents of every dollar earned in America. We talk about a lot of things on the floor of the Senate but somehow we forget to talk about the reality of who is winning in this economy and who is losing. And it is very clear to anyone who spends 2 minutes studying the issue that the people on top are doing extraordinarily well at the same time as the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing.

Mr. President, if you can believe this…you know, many people out there are angry they’re wondering, what’s happening to their own income, to their lives, to the lives of their kids. Since between 1980 and 2005, 80%...80% of all new income created in this country went to the top 1%. Eighty percent of all new income! And that’s why people are wondering and asking, “What’s going on in my life? How come I’m working longer hours for lower wages? How come I’m worrying about whether my kids will have as good a standard of living as I’ve had?” From 1980 to 2005, eighty percent of all income went to the top 1%. Today, the Wall Street executives, the crooks on Wall Street who’s actions resulted in the severe recession that we are in right now. The people whose actions, illegal actions, reckless actions have resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes and their savings. Guess what…after we bailed them out, the CEO’s today are now earning more money than they did before the bailout.

Mr. President, while the middle class of this country collapses and the rich become much richer, the United States now has, by far, the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country on earth. When we were in school, we used to read the textbooks which talked about the “banana republics” in Latin America. We used to read the books about countries in which a handful of people owned and controlled most of the wealth of those countries. Well, guess what, that’s exactly what’s happening in the United States today.

Mr. President, the wealthiest people in this country, not all of them by the way, not all of them, there are many wealthy people in this country who understand and are proud to be Americans who understand that one of the things that’s important is that all of us do well. But there are, on the other hand, many others who’s apparently only concern is more and more wealth and more and more power for themselves. And this is an issue; this greed is an issue that we have got to deal with. Now in the midst of all of this growing income and wealth inequality in this country, we are now faced with the issue of what we do with the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and if you can believe it we have people here, many of my republican colleges who tell us, “Oh, I’m so concerned about our record breaking deficit! I am terribly concerned about a 13.7 trillion dollar national debt! Terribly concerned about the debt that we’re going to be leaving to our kids and our grandchildren! But, wait a’s very important that we give, over a 10 year period, $700 billion in tax breaks to the top 2%. Oh yeah, we’re concerned about the debt, we’re concerned about the deficit, but we are more concerned that millionaires, people who earn at least a million dollars a year or more, get on average a $100,000 a year in tax breaks. So you’ve got a $13.7 Trillion national debt growing. You’ve got growing income inequality; top 1% earning more income than the bottom 50%, but the highest priority of many of my republican colleges is to make sure that millionaires and billionaires get more tax breaks. I think that that is absurd.

But it is not only income tax rates that we are dealing with, but it is the estate tax as well. And let’s be clear, while some of my friends want to eliminate completely the estate tax which has been in existence in this country since 1916. Let us be clear that every nickel of benefit…all of those benefits will go to the top three-tenths of 1 percent. And if we did, as some of my friends would like, eliminate the estate tax completely it would cost us a trillion dollars in revenue over a ten-year period, all of the benefits going to the top three-tenths of one percent. So I am sure that in a little while my friends are going to come down to the floor and say, “We’re very concerned about the deficit, we’re very concerned about the national debt. But do you know what were’ more concerned about, giving HUGE tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country.

But Mr. President, the tax issue is just one part of what some of our wealthy friends want to see happen in this country. The reality is that many of these folks want to bring the United States back to where we were in the 1920’s. And they want to do their best to eliminate all traces of social legislation which working families fought tooth and nail to develop to bring a modicum of stability and security to their lives. There are people out there, not all but there are some, who want to privatize or completely eliminate Social Security. They want to privatize or cut back substantially on Medicare…yeah, you’re 75 years of age and you have no money? Good luck to you getting your health insurance at an affordable cost from a private insurance company. I am just sure that there are all kinds of private insurance companies out there just delighted to take care of low-income seniors who are struggling with cancer or another disease.

Mr. President, furthermore there are corporate leaders out there, and many members of congress, who not only want to continue but want to expand our disastrous trade policies. My wife and I went shopping the other day…started our Christmas shopping and we looked and we looked and virtually every product that was out there in the store…consumer products, was China, China and China. We seem to be a country in which we have a 51st state named China that is producing virtually all of the products that we as Americans consume. Our trade policy has resulted in the loss of millions of good paying jobs as large corporations and CEO’s have said, “Why do I want to reinvest in America when I can go to countries where people are paid fifty cents or seventy-five cents an hour? That’s what I’m going to do. The heck with the working people of this country.” So not only are we saddled with this disastrous trade policy, there are people who actually want to expand it.

Now, one of the things that we’re going to see going on is that while we struggle with a record-breaking deficit and a large national debt, caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, caused by tax breaks for the wealthy; caused by an unpaid-for Medicare part D prescription drug program; caused by the Wall Street bail-out…driving up the deficit, driving up the national debt. And then some people say, “Oh my goodness, we’ve got all of those expenses, and then we’ve got to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, but we want to balance the budget. Gee, how are we going to do that?” Well, obviously, we know how they’re going to do that, we’re going to cut back on healthcare, we’re going to cut back on education, we’re going to cut back on childcare, we’re going to cut back on Pell programs. We just don’t have enough money for working families and their needs. We’re going to cut back on food stamps. We’re surely not going to expand unemployment compensation. We’ve got a higher priority, Mr. President, we have got to, got to, got to give tax breaks to billionaires. I mean, that’s what this whole place is all about, isn’t it? They fund the campaigns; they get what’s due them.

Mr. President, amazingly enough we have our friends on Wall Street, the CEOs of the large financial institutions, they want to rescind, or slow down, many of the provisions, the very modest provisions, in the financial reform bill. I voted for the financial reform bill, but I will tell you clearly that it did not go anywhere near far enough, but it went too far for our Wall Street friends and their lobbyists, who were all over here. And for the hundreds of millions of dollars that Wall Street spends in this place, they want to rescind, slow down some of the reforms there. These people want to cut back on the powers of the EPA and the Department of Energy so that Exxon-Mobil can remain the most profitable corporation in world history. While oil and coal companies continue to pollute our air and our water. Last year, Exxon-Mobil made $19 Billion in profit…guess what, they paid ZERO in taxes, they got a $156 million refund from the IRS. I guess that’s not good enough. We’ve got to give the oil companies even more tax breaks. So Mr. President, I think that’s where we are, and we’ve got to own up to it. There is a war going on. The middle class is struggling for existence and they’re taking on some of the wealthiest and most powerful forces in the world, whose greed has no end. And if we don’t begin to stand together and start representing those families, there will not be a middle class in this country.

Mr. President, with that, I yield the floor.

I think that all I can say in response to this is...WOW...I couldn't possibly agree more, with every word (obviously...I actually took the time to type the transcript myself because I couldn't find one available).

And just to serve as a reminder that there were once Republicans that had souls...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Economic Impasse

For the first time in the history of our nation, the United States Congress has allowed unemployment benefits to run out for 2.5 million Americans with the unemployment rate this high (currently at 9.6%).

The Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration strongly support an extension, but don’t have the votes to get it passed. The republicans are once again holding important legislation hostage as they stomp their feet, demanding their way and refusing to compromise, like petulant children. They want a tax cut for the millionaires and billionaires of this country, and if that means holding unemployment benefits and middle class tax cuts hostage to try to get it, they’re fine with that.

Yesterday, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” commentator Mike Barnicle asked Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ), “I keep hearing from several Republicans that they would vote for the extension of unemployment benefits, which are to expire today, if those unemployment benefits are paid for, and yet these same Republicans that they will vote to extend all the Bush tax cuts when those are unpaid for. So my question to you is in this lame duck session that we’re approaching would you vote for the extension of unemployment benefits, right now, today? Up or down, yes or no?”

To which Shadegg replied, “If they were paid for and if we extend the tax cuts. The issue is jobs. Come on…the American people sent this message pretty clearly. They want us focused on getting this economy going and I’m sorry that you can’t see that helping people with unemployment AND not enacting massive new tax increases, which will damage the job creation market are linked. They make sense together. Of course Republicans don’t want to tax the job creators because that will bring revenue down.”

Barnicle then said, “Well what about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy?”

“No they’re not. Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.” Shadegg sneered scornfully.

“Unemployed people spend money, Congressman. Because they have no money.” Barnicle replied.

Shadegg responded, “Ah ha…so your answer is that it’s the spending of money that drives the economy and I don’t think that’s right. It’s the creation of jobs that drives the economy.”

It absolutely amazes me that a United States Congressman doesn’t understand that the spending of money IS the economy. It is the spending of money that drives the creation of jobs. A company will not create jobs if they have no customers and are making no money, regardless of how many tax cuts they may get. Small businesses don’t hire because they’re given a tax cut and decide to share the prosperity…they hire people because business is good and they need the help…because their customers are SPENDING money. If their customers have no money to spend, then the company won’t hire and everything will spiral downward that much further, which is personally what I believe the Republicans are hoping to accomplish.

Shadegg then said “The truth is that the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can.” This statement told me (and Mr. Barnicle) that Mr. Shadegg has never been unemployed (or is so well off that, even if unemployed, that he didn’t rely on his unemployment for subsistence as most of the unemployed in this country do).

“The issue is, do we want to continue to do what the current administration and the current congress has done, which is ignore the issue of jobs and increase taxes and not focus on the needs of the American people or do we want to try something that might work like not increasing taxes on the economy. This is a tax increase in a down economy.” Shadegg continued.

“You still haven’t told me how unemployed people create jobs. Look we’ve been doing what you proposed that we continue to do, raising unemployment benefits and extending them. You’ve been doing this and doing this for years,” Shadegg said, as he broke into raucous laughter.

NO, Congressman Shadegg, what we've had "for years" is these tax cuts for the wealthy, and what we've learned is that they do NOT "create jobs" nor do they help the economy in any it's time to STOP doing what we've been "doing for years" and that is giving tax breaks to millionaires.  It's YOUR policies that have been tried and failed "for years" Congressman let's stop them now.  What your side has been doing "for years" is the same thing you're doing now...siding with the rich at the expense of the rest of us and being obstructionists...neither are working for the country...please stop NOW!

See the whole Shadegg appearance at:

Later on in that same show, a Republican Congressman from Illinois named Schock was asked the same question by Barnicle and got pretty much the same, pat Republican talking point answer, saying “Most economists believe it is a bad idea to raise taxes on anyone in a down economy. So you can argue about whether or not we need the revenue, but I would argue that we need the growth in our economy. We need the job creators, those small business people to hire, if we’re ever going to get out of the deficit situation that we’re in.

To which Eugene Robinson said, “If we’re going to start quoting economists here , ALL economists agree that it’s a bad idea to cut off unemployment benefits in a down economy because the money gets spent. And how does it create jobs? Well, people spend money at small businesses and big businesses which allows them to employ people and to take that money out of the economy, every economist agrees, has a much more immediate effect.”

At this point Mika butted in and made some inane comment about both sides having a point, (which I think is total crap in some cases, both sides don't ALWAYS "have a point") which ended this discussion flow, when personally, I would have LIKED to hear the congressman’s response to that…because I think it would have simply been more postulating and millionaire talking points and would have helped to show his side up for what it is.

Buchanan then asked Schock what if a compromise was offered…what if the President said “it’s not going to be $250,000, let’s take it up to a million. We’ll extend tax cuts for everybody who makes less than a million dollars if you guys will only let the taxes rise to their former level on millionaires. Will the Republicans compromise on that, or will they let the middle class tax cut go under rather than compromise?”

“I don’t think there is support in our conference to do that.” Schock replied, but that they did hope for a compromise.

To which Buchanan asked, “What’s the compromise?”

“The compromise is a full extension at current rates, no tax increases for any American for two years.”

At which even Buchanan laughed and said “that’s not a compromise, that’s a victory.”

I think that Eugene Robinson summed it up best when he said, “I haven’t seen a single public opinion survey anywhere that suggests that Americans disagree with the basic premise … extend the middle class tax cuts, but the upper income tax cuts we can do without. Every poll I have seen taken by every pollster says that. So, let’s be honest about where people stand on this.” At which point the program changed the subject to suddenly start discussing the Wikileaks situation (which I personally think has been an overblown distraction being used to attempt to embarass the Obama administration).

To see the full segment with Congressman Schock go to:

I called my congressman’s office to tell him what I believe the solution to this matter is, not that I think it will do any good…he’s a good little GOPer and will do whatever the GOP leadership tells him to. As far as I’m concerned, the only satisfactory solution in this situation is that the unemployment benefits should, of course, be immediately extended. As far as the tax cuts are concerned, the cuts for everyone making under $250,000 should be made permanent. Those for everyone making between $250,000 and $1,000,000, can be temporarily extended for two years (THAT is the "compromise"). For those making over a million, those cuts need to sunset. Clearly they have NOT helped to create jobs at ALL, but rather have only helped to increase the deficit.

The hypocrisy of the Right  is absolutely sickening (hypocrisy seems to be the ONE thing about the GOP these days that is consistent) on the issue of ONLY extending unemployment (which is DESPERATELY needed by those who draw it) IF it’s paid for, but the tax cuts for millionaires (who do NOT need them) can be done WITHOUT being paid for. Can someone PLEASE help me understand why keeping an unemployed family afloat canNOT be done “on credit”, but making rich people richer can? I simply don’t understand.

There is no reason that millionaires cannot pay the same rates that they paid under President Clinton…prosperous years when everyone was doing well…that’s a time I’d like to go back to. And as I’ve said before, if I had a million dollars, I would be MORE than happy to pay 40% of it to help/support my country, and I simply don’t understand the selfishness of those who feel otherwise.

Please Democrats…don’t capitulate on this…no tax cuts on credit for millionaires!