31 October 2008
Senator Obama was not my first choice, and probably not even my second choice when the campaign began. However, as the primaries and campaign continued, I saw emerge from the rhetoric a true leader grounded in all that is great about America.
He, and his party, are certainly right about the things which deeply matter to me: fairness, dignity, and respect for all, opportunity to work hard and better one's self, a focus on people rather than institutions of influence and wealth, and a dedication to the most basic precepts of our constitution through the empowerment of people by creating programs and policies of support and opportunity rather than those of rationing, restriction, punishment and hindrance.
But, beyond the issues, the policies, and the positions, there is something even stronger, more personal and visceral. Senator Obama is a leader at a time our nation fairly wails out for leadership. He has come through a bitter, vicious, hate-attack filled campaign of lies, misrepresentations, and provocations remaining cool, calm, composed and sharply focused on the issues rather than engaging in tit-for-tat personality and ad-hominem assault.
But, more than that, he comes through as a man of vision, decency, honesty and purpose. He's a hard-working family man who always takes time for his kids. He's like the men I served with, the people I work with today, and so many members of my community. He's a good man, who I would be proud to call friend.
While active in the Marines, I had a battalion commander, who later became a two-star, that we would gladly have followed to attack the gates of hell armed with only a tea-cup of water. Obama demonstrates many of the qualities of that man, and I trust him enough to tell you that I'm ready, if not to attack, to certainly fill up that tea-cup and have it at the ready!
FOR UNITED STATES SENATE - TEXAS: RICK NORIEGA
I have had the singular honor and very distinct pleasure to "mount the stump" on several rallies and political gatherings on behalf Representative Noriega. I've been able to watch first hand as he talks to Texans from all walks of life and to observe how ready and knowledgeable he is of the details of the problems they're facing. More importantly, to listen as he makes common sense proposals to eradicate or solve those problems.
He does not cloak himself in a filter of "feel-good" or hide behind buzz-words meant to convey business as usual. His campaigns ads do not invoke meaningless images of rising suns, cattle grazing and Texas Good-Ole Boy canards. They are to the point and honest.
Too long Texans have been shackled to two Senators in lock-step with Bush and his neo-com agenda of world hegemony on behalf of big oil and other vested interests. If for no other reason than that he opposes the Bush & "Crony" Cornyn programs of deregulation and privatization of Social Security and dismantling of Medicare we should vote for Rick Noriega.
As with Senator Obama though, there is a bit more. There is that innate quality of decency and honesty. A sense that this man comes to the campaign, not from a sense of entitlement, but, rather, from that old-fashioned Texas virtue of having a vision for the good of all and a willingness to work and put it on line to bring about that vision.
I believe Rick Noriega to be a decent, hard-working, family man, who has served both his country and his state in the military and the legislature with great distinction who deserves our support. If we fail to send this man to Washington, we fail ourselves!
FOR TEXAS SUPREME COURT - VOTE DEMOCRATIC
For the first time in fourteen years, we have three very well qualified Democratic candidates for the Texas Supreme Court; Jim Jordan, Sam Houston, and Linda Yanez.
While this court only decides civil cases, its nine justices are all Republican and of a single extreme, reactionary-right mindset. One University of Texas law professor's review of the court's 2004 and 2005 tort cases revealed that the court decided on the side of defendants (businesses) 87% of the time.
An example of pro-business bias was its 9-0 decision in the Entergy case which, for the first time, protected plant operators from negligence lawsuits when contract workers were injured on the job. That decision required the court to ignore years of actual practice and legislative initiatives.
Elsewhere, the court ruled 6-3, that a young woman held captive and tied down for two hours by a church in order to expel the demons possessing her could not be held liable. The majority claimed Constitutional protection for religious liberty protected the church from liability.
Numerous ethical questions have come up about their using political accounts for personal travel expenses, and other embarrassments, including attempts to get the legislature to pay one's legal bills for defending himself in an ethic violation case.
Enough! Vote to balance the Texas Supreme Court. Vote Democratic!
30 October 2008
29 October 2008
psst! Representative Noriega, the economy has caused a complete paradigm shift for older Americans and working families. It is predicted that deflation and global economic weakness will extend until 2010. Even when recovery starts, there will be a several year lag before normal people will feel the effects. How do we protect people planning retirement right now, or in the next several years, whose 401k's and other pension plans have already devalued and will remain so for maybe another five to ten years.
Noriega: "We're all faced with it. Our 401k's have become 201k's. Especially those who are looking to retire in the next few years and who are not prepared to work another five to ten years to regain all that value they have lost.
I think first, we must restore confidence in our financial system and bring back balance and the regulatory components to restore trust to the taxpayers and [regulate] those poisonous products, and hedge funds, and derivatives on Wall Street that promised to police themselves and didn't. We want government to be an honest broker of checks and balances and not to allow runaway greed to rule the day. This requires both domestic and international regulatory measures.
We also need to keep people in their homes. I support giving bankruptcy judges the authority to keep people in their homes who previously had good credit, have a job, and are making good faith effort to make payments.
Another way to restore confidence in the system is to restore accountability and to call out the those who were egregious in their greed and proceed to prosecute people. When we have people taking our tax dollars and going off on junkets and getting manicures and massages, we have to act to restore faith in our system both domestically and internationally. We must demonstrate through prudent action that we are serious about right our house.
These things are essential to seeing the system recover. Another thing is that in addition to having a growth component in our economy, there also is a cut-back component. In my opinion, that means getting our men and women out of Iraq as quickly and safely as possible to save around $120-billion a year. And, we've got to get our health care reformed so that it saves government both locally and nationally.
As a government, we must got to get back to pay-as-you-go. The new energy economy is a way to stimulate jobs and job growth, and investments in small business helps to create jobs.
Again. grow our economy in conjunction with correcting our misplaced priorities on the spending side."
psst! Let me pursue the 401k issue a bit further. Even if things you outline and recommend do happen, we're still looking at a long-term window where those people who would like to retire and who have seen their 401ks, IRAs, or other pension plans decimated and who recognize that it will take some time to recover those losses. Would you support a measure, or temporary change to the tax code, for a specific period of time that would hold in abeyance the "draw-down" requirement at age seventy-and-a-half for 401ks?
Noriega. "Yeah, I think we have to look at all aspects, whether it's freezing penalties, or other options, such as you mention, and allowing withdrawals from IRAs, or other things to prevent massive losses from retirement accounts. I think we need to put all those on the table."
27 October 2008
Meanwhile, enjoy this Noriega ad, exposing the many costumes of John "Crony" Cornyn.
Obama Maintains a Strong Lead in the Electoral College
There are strong indications here that the financial crises, while helping Obama considerably, is not the only factor driving the electorate right now. None of the Republican sliming is sticking, people are getting to know him and respect his "cool under fire" approach to crises.
From electoralvote.com, "This graph shows the electoral college score over time counting only those states where one candidate has a lead of at least 5%. The states where it is very close don't count here. With one exceptional period, it is possible to draw a pretty clear straight line through the middle of the blue line from mid-April until now. The exceptional period occurred in the last two weeks of September, when McCain got a small bounce from Palin's incendiary convention speech, which really fired up the base. However, when the bounce faded, as all convention bounces do, Obama continued on his upwards trajectory. If you compare 2008 to 2004 (on the Electoral coll. page) you see that this year looks completely different from that one. Other than a two-day blip on June 24-25, 2004, when Kerry briefly touched 300 EVs, neither candidate ever was even close to 270 EVs in the solid states although Kerry was above 270 counting the "barely states" until his Swift Boat was torpedoed."
"So what's with the nearly straight line upwards for Obama? Charlie Cook and many other nonpartisan experts have said that with 80% of the population saying the country is on the wrong track, this was going to be an election about Barack Obama. People clearly want change, but they were not yet sure if Obama was up to the job. After 18 months of campaigning and countless primary and general election debates, people are getting to know Obama and are beginning to feel he is a good man in a storm. His calm behavior during the bailout bill period--and McCain's erratic behavior--helped Obama a lot (see graph). Slowly but surely people are coming to believe he can do the job, and that's all he needed. "
26 October 2008
Alaska's biggest paper, The Anchorage Daily News, has endorsed Barack Obama for president, despite -- or at least partly because -- its state governor's presence on the opposing ticket. - October 26, 2008 12:45 PM ET
SATURDAY ENDORSEMENTS: Obama Gets Baltimore, Minneapolis, Hartford, Charlotte, St. Pete -- Phoenix and Cincy Go for McCain.
Obama now has picked up over 30 papers that endorsed Bush in 2004.
The Hartford Courant, the oldest continuous publishing newspaper in the country (I think), is to endorse Obama, making it only the second Democratic endorsement in its history.
The Hartford Courant editorial faulted McCain for his choice of running mate. “With so many capable people to choose from, Mr. McCain’s pick of a governor with such a thin resume was disappointing. It’s a wonder how Mr. McCain can make his Democratic rival out to be too green to be commander-in-chief when his Republican running mate is so vulnerable on that point,” writes The Courant.
The Baltimore Sun: "Senator Obama is a relative newcomer on the national stage. But he has proved to be that rarest of public servants, an inspirational leader who would transcend any enduring racial barriers and call upon the best in the American character, a public servant who also possesses the finely honed political skills necessary to turn the nation's highest ideals into practical policies that benefit citizens."
Meanwhile, ever opportunistic and shamelessly ambitious, Sarah Palin, has begun her campaign for the 2012 Presidential race, according to the Votemaster over at ElectoralVote.com.
"Politico is reporting that Sarah Palin has had enough with what her handlers are telling her to do. She blames them for her increasingly negative public image and wants to be herself. Some people are interpreting this as the start of her 2012 presidential campaign."
And, if you're tracking the campaign down to the Nth degree, Obama now projects 375 Electoral Votes to McCain's 157. And, you ask, how does this compare to this day in 2004? Bush had 285 and Kerry 247.
24 October 2008
The Center for American Progress estimates that cuts of this magnitude would eliminate the Medicare prescription drug benefit for 10.2 million low-income seniors already struggling with the worst economic situation since the great depression. McCain's plan, which would for the first time ever tax health care premiums, would be paid for on the back of millions of retirees and those struggling to retire.
Already, retirement plans in the U.S. have lost $2-trillion over the past fifteen months, according to the head of the Congressional Budget Office. The loss, constituting almost 20% of the total value of those plans is indicative of the severity of this crises and of how much of the brunt of it affects seniors and working families.
CBO Director, Peter Orszag, said that 10% of this loss was between mid-2207 and mid-2007 with another 10% hitting just in the brief period of the last three months.
"We have a major retirement crisis in America", said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance for Retired Americans. He added, "Social Security is more important than ever. It is a mystery to me why, in the face of all this, President Bush and Senator McCain want to gamble away a privatized Social Security on the roulette wheel of the stock market."
This last Monday, a top McCain campaign advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, confirmed McCain's support of means testing for Medicare Part D. Under this plan, wealthier seniors would pay more for premiums for drug coverage, as they do for Part B. Means testing penalizes the middle class and requires higher premiums from better off seniors. The end result is that many seniors would shift their coverage to private insurance coverage or opt into HMOs, leaving behind the sickest and poorest.
Given McCain's philosophical problems with Medicare it becomes very obvious that this is not about means testing at all, but, rather, an attempt to chisel away at the program.
John McCain is an angry, mean old man of immense wealth who has lost whatever scruples or moral rudder he might once have had. He is no friend of seniors and the more people who learn that, the better off we will be once election day. For way too long the Republicans have played a game of Three-Card Monte with older Americans by appealing to their fears and concerns in a rapidly changing world, while working to dismantle the New Deal and its social insurance programs and regulations which guaranteed working families and Older Americans a health and economic safety net and preserved the prospects of a safe, secure and dignified retirement and old age.
Please take a moment and study the last three posts and make a bullet point style cheat sheet so that you are prepared to counter McCain supporters on the issues, which affect us the most.
No excuses--Do it!
23 October 2008
From the golden age retirement retreats of Florida up through small farming towns in Missouri and up into Michigan seniors are getting the message: John McCain is not a friend to older Americans and working families.
Americans regard a safe, secure and dignified retirement as a right, not a privilege. John McCain has a secure lifetime pension paid for by American taxpayers but regards Social Security for the rest of us as a "disgrace". He would turn over to the croupiers of Wall Street the most successful social insurance program in the history of our country.
McCain has been willing to collect $23,000 in Social Security last year, while at the same time supporting Bush's failed attempts to privatize the program, raise the retirement age, cut guaranteed benefits, and to allow Wall Street hedge funds to gamble with our Social Security Trust Funds.
Even though he is willing to collect benefits, he calls the program a disgrace and promises, if elected, to privatize Social Security "along the lines of President Bush."
Previously, I wrote of McCain's attacks on Medicare and when you tie those together with his plans for Social Security, you can see why I can say that John McCain is no friend of working Americans or their parents and grand-parents. He would take two of the best managed and most reliable social insurance programs in the world and hand them over to speculators, HMOs, and insurance oligarchs.
John McCain supported the deregulation that contributed in large part to the current economic crises and which has driven down home-values and the equity that older people rely on for retirement, devalued pension funds and 401k plans, and now he targets Social Security and Medicare.
You know your friends by their deeds. With friends like John McCain, seniors and working families do not need enemies!
21 October 2008
McCain has great vulnerability on at least two critical issues for seniors, Medicare and Social Security. No thinking older person, with all the facts about McCain and his position on these important programs, would ever vote for him. Today, we'll examine McCain and Medicare. Next, Social Security.
McCain and Medicare:
Health care costs are rising creating tremendous problems for patients and doctors. Some doctors have dropped Medicare patients because they cannot cover their expenses. McCain sided with Bush and Insurance companies last summer in an attempt to reduce doctor's fee by 10%. This would have resulted in it being even harder for older Americans on Medicare to get their needed treatment.
Part of McCain's Three-Card Monte campaign patter is that he'll cut Medicare costs by $1.3 trillion dollars. He says he will do it by cutting "fraud & waste" and by "reforming payment policies". Do the math! Wait. You're a liberal arts major? I'll do it for you.
According to the GAO, Medicare is run more efficiently than any private insurance company with far less of its money going to "administrative" costs than does that of those insurance companies. And, Medicare has some of the best, and most up-to-date, fraud detection software in the world. Yes, there no doubt is some fraud and some waste, but not $1.3 trillion.
There is only one way to carve out that $1.3-trillion and that is by "reforming payment policies". In every day terms, all that means is that he will pursue the Bush plan of cutting payments to your doctors. And that means fewer doctors are going to take Medicare patients. And, those doctors who will still accept Medicare will be reluctant to perform certain services when they can't bill Medicare for the real cost of the procedure.
This does not affect just seniors, it touches their kids and their grand kids, because if grandma and grandpa can't get the health care they need because John McCain has choked off their coverage, guess where the burden will fall.
Print this , take it with you, and the next person of forty or more who wants to talk about Obama being this or that, simply give them the facts about what McCain is going to do to their, or their parents, or grand parents health care.
A safe, secure and dignified retirement in the best possible health is a right, not a privilege. A well-funded Medicare program is a keystone to that right!
Next: McCain and Social Security.
20 October 2008
White Castles, you ask. Oh my. How to describe a White Castle to the uninitiated?
To call them hamburgers is to entirely miss the point. They are miniature, square, little flattened patties of hamburger meat(maybe)about the size of two business cards lying side-by-side, grilled through-and-through on a flat grill slathered in onions, and served on a small square bun and are best if drenched in horseradish mustard. They are served steaming hot with no lettuce, no mayo, no tomatoes, some like a slice of cheese on them---I don't.
The key to a good White Castle is the grill. It must be filthy. Well not really filthy, but it must not be cleaned and shiny, it wants to be dark, crusted on the edges and oily with generations of meat fat and onion juice. Scrubbing away that patina destroys the very essence of what a White Castle is all about.
Back in the day, at 12-cents apiece one could buy a sack of six or twelve after a movie, hop a trolley and arrive home with a full belly.
I was about six or seven when I had my first White Castle. My old-man had taken me to a double bill of Dracula and Frankenstein at the Fox in St. Louis and afterward, waiting for the trolley back to Grandma's apartment on Hamilton, he had an inspired moment that forever changed my life. He bought a dozen, loaded them with rich, golden brown, horseradish mustard and we set to.
Some kids learn great truths from their dads, some learn to hunt or fish, some acquire great inspiration to set out on professional or academic careers. I envy them not. My old man introduced me to the world's greatest hangover cure, next to menudo. For that I remain grateful.
The reason my cat is helping me is that she senses I am feeling a bit saddened by some news I received today. Tucker, my cat, is more familiar than cat, and always quick to come to my lap, stand on my chest and lick my chin when I am down. She also comes to get me at bedtime.
I received one of those classmate-list emails today informing me of a classmate's death. Just another kid that I'd lost touch with through the years, but one who I often have thought of. We didn't hang out together so we were never really friends. Classmates sums up the relationship. I was trying hard to be a "hood" and Johnny was already fast-tracking to a future of Brooks Brothers Suits and button-down oxford shirts.
Johnny was a nice enough guy, but a bit of a provocative smart-ass where I was concerned, and one cold wintery day when the teacher was out of the room we got into a bloody fight. It was over something stupid--as though classroom fights in high-school are ever about something bright!
Back then, a strong breeze would cause my nose to bleed and Johnny wore big heavy upper and lower braces. By the time a few blows were exchanged we were both bleeding like hemophiliacs and the front of the classroom was as gruesome and blood soaked as an abattoir. I swore I won, and he swore he had won. Our principal, Mother Catherine, became the ultimate winner.
So at 68, Johnny is dead, at way too early an age, I'm sharing White Castles with a desperately spoiled little tabby cat and wondering how it all fits together.
18 October 2008
Here's an update from the Progressive States Network on other attempts to suppress Democratic votes.
- Fallout from Montana Voter Challenge Plan Continues: Last week we highlighted the tremendous job that Forward Montana and other local advocates did in bringing a massive attempt to challenge voters in Montana to a stop. In just a few days the plan was abandoned amid serious public backlash. This week there has been additional fallout as the executive director of the state GOP has stepped down. Clearly trying to keep people like deployed soldiers from voting wasn't a popular activity in the big sky state.
- Michigan District Court Rules that Voter Caging Violates Federal Law: In a case that stems from the Macomb County, Michigan Republican Party's plan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls, a District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan has ruled that the state's process for purging voters whose voter registration cards are returned as undeliverable violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. That law requires that states wait two years between flagging a voter as inactive and removing that voter from the rolls. Returned mail is often used, erroneously, as a basis for challenging voters' qualification. This process is termed "caging" and has been a favorite voter suppression technique of right wing operatives for decades.
- GOP Efforts to Prevent Early Voting Fail: Three separate judges ruled in quick succession that they would not intervene to prevent early voting in Lake County, Indiana (see here, here, and here). The Indiana Republican Party (IRP) had sought an injunction after the board of elections in the heavily Democratic county had voted to open early voting sites in the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. The IRP argued that satellite early voting sites could only be authorized by a unanimous vote of the county board.
- Ohio Ordered to Report Unverified Voter Registration Applications: In yet another case brought by the Ohio GOP against the Secretary of State, a federal judge has ruled that Ohio election officials must directly report voter registration applicants whose personal information does not match with information in government databases to county boards of election. The Sec. of State says 200,000 out of 666,000 registrants in 2008 have mismatching data. Previously such voters were merely flagged in the voter database and counties were free to investigate the eligibility of the voter if they chose. (Seems to be beaten back at the moment--but expect other attacks on voter's rights in this pivotal state)
- ACORN Target of Coordinated Conservative Attacks: After last weeks raid of ACORN's Nevada headquarters in Las Vegas, they have been the victim of a multi-prong attack by right wing forces across the country. The McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee have held numerous conference calls accusing the organization of engaging in voter fraud. In addition, the Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank where former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow, has filed a RICO suit against ACORN accusing them of engaging in a conspiracy to violate election laws.
ACORN has by far registered the most voters of any independent organization involved in voter registration, with over one million registrations this year. By targeting low-income and minority voters they are in large part responsible for the dramatic increase in Democratic-affiliated voters since 2004. And while some bogus registrations have been submitted as part of their massive registration drive, such registrations are flagged by ACORN and reported to election officials as they are discovered.
Given ACORN's apparent compliance with election law, the coordinated attacks against them seem to have two purposes: generating bad publicity for the Obama campaign by trying to tie him to the group, and delegitimizing the massive Democratic turnout, fueled by new voters, that is expected in November. Though even McCain surrogate Gov. Crist of Florida, ground zero in the voter registration struggles this year, doesn't believe ACORN is aiding or perpetraing any voter fraud
17 October 2008
The Republicans are concerned that newly registered young, first-time and African-American voters excited by Obama's message of positive change will swing the bottom of ticket plurality to the Democrats. And, this is their effort to distract and confuse or cause the inexperienced to become discouraged to the point of not voting at all.
Barack's campaign and the Texas Democratic party have issued statements to the effect that this is "False information probably initiated by Republican dirty tricksters." Many well meaning Barack supporters have forwarded the e-mail thinking it was factual and believing they were supporting Obama's campaign in getting the message out.
State Republicans, always, as we know, as pure as driven snow in January, disavow any connection to this scurrilous attempt at vote diversion and suppression--the confusion can lead to disallowed ballots.
The e-mail tells voters that if they vote for the straight Democratic option, they must also press the selection next to Obama's name to record a vote for him. THIS IS FALSE INFORMATION. Doing this would actually deselect the vote for Obama and render questionable the validity of the entire ballot.
There are other efforts afloat in attempts to suppress young and African-American first-time votes, and I will be posting notices of them as they come to the surface and will be providing resource phone numbers and contacts to assist everyone in making certain that they get to vote and that your vote get tallied properly. Meanwhile, click here to find the truth about rules, requirements and regulations relating to casting your vote.
But for now, remember this. If you wish to vote straight Democratic, simply mark or push the button by "Straight Democratic". That is it! Your vote includes Barack Obama and all the other Democratic candidates for the various offices.
Do not select straight Democratic and then select individual Democratic candidates. This will cancel your vote for those individual candidates. It also may flag your ballot for scrutiny or challenge.
Remember, Republicans regard it as their entitlement to "be in charge" and regard elections and voting as bothersome hurdles and will focus nearly as much effort on suppressing Democratic votes as they will promoting legitimate Republican votes. Know your rights and stay aware!
16 October 2008
After last night's debate, poor John McCain is getting a heaping helping of both and, truthfully, I am feeling just a tad sorry for him. It is reported today that a Florida pollster assembled a focus group last night, which had, by the mid way point, disintegrated into snickers at McCain's responses and face makings.
I feel sorrow in the same way I feel for older people who have given up their driving privileges, or who battle incontinence, or flatulence. People, who at one time moved through live doing their thing without making fools of themselves or behaving in such a way to draw the pity or snickering of others.
Regardless one's politics or personal views regarding John McCain, we all can agree, I should hope, that at one time he was dynamic and formidable. However, that was then, and this is now. Voters are moving away from him faster than the grandchildren from the oldsters passing gas or leaving damp spots on the living room furniture.
I offer the video below as evidence of what I'm talking about. Obama sandbagged McCain, McCain gaped and never recovered his composure. He looked confused and befuddled, and you felt like that last ride with grandpa (before he gave up driving) and you had to shout "The light's turned green three-times, gran-dah, we need to go through the intersection this time", and he turned with that look that told you he was somewhere else in a very different time with someone other than you.
Watch it. This is too sad to take any pleasure from it. But it is clearly one of those moments which cause the family to exchange looks and start to quietly make future plans!
14 October 2008
Unbridled capitalism has but one logical end. After time, all competition is squashed and all the wealth accumulates in the hands of a single entity. It is predictable, and foreseeable, and ultimately works against the best interests of all but the very wealthy. Roosevelt and his advisers knew this and put in place regulations and restrictions on banking, credit and finance and enforced rules that assured that workers had a place at the bargaining table and a voice in how things were to be administered.
From this came the middle-class. Hardworking people acquired, and collectively bargained with, marketable skills and produced goods and services which were the envy of the world. They used their hard-earned money to buy homes, build basement "rathskellers" and back-yard Bar-B-Que pits, and they saved and sent their kids to college so that they too would not "have to punch the clock" as part of the "daily grind". Health care was not a profit-centered commodity and was readily available to most through jobs and pension guarantees. And all looked forward to old ages of safety, security and dignity.
Yes, shamefully, even then there were some being left out. But, we attempted programs and policies to build on FDR's which would go after those problems and issues. We tried to bring about early education, to end hunger, to create meaningful jobs with fair incomes. And, at every step in the process, the conservations, using incipient racism, took every opportunity to derail, rabble-rouse against, stymie and make inoperable those programs.
Even that was not good enough for the selfish and dysfunctional conservatives. They were dedicated to developing a replay, a means to wind back the clock in order to undo and dismantle all the gains of the New Deal.
Milton Friedman and neo-liberal economics provided the vision and means that has seen a three decade attack on working Americans, the elderly, and the poor. In her book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, tells us in a few short sentences the M.O.used by the neo-conservative politicians and their neo-liberal economic henchmen:
Using the distraction of natural and social disasters or upheavals they quickly move to (1) Aggressively deregulate, (2) De-fund and end social programs, (3) Privatize the legitimate functions of government paying private contractors using American tax dollars.
Here's a couple of quick examples:
Katrina. Instead of rebuilding public, and low-cost housing, private developers are using tax money to build lavish tourist attractions.
Iraq. Who provides security to civilians? Private security firms. Who feeds and waters our military? Halliburton contractors. Who interrogates captives? Private shadow organizations.
They have outsourced virtually every function of government and are intent on finishing off the public schools and all health care.
We can stop them with this election. If we win the White House and enough for a majority Senate we MAYBE can begin the very long road of recovery. If we do not, it is over, and the American dream, as once defined, is gone for ever!
And that, my friends, is only a part of why this election is so damned important. We lost 2000 and 2004 because we allowed election fraud and bullying to take the day. And, we have paid a dreadfully dear price!
It is not enough that you merely vote, or make phone calls, or drive people to the polls. We need you to convince at least one other person, an undecided, someone not likely to vote--at least one other person, to vote for Obama and whatever Democrats are on the bottom of the ticket.
13 October 2008
This could be a great election for American Democracy, with greater participation than we've seen perhaps ever. But we need to make sure that eligible voters who want to cast a ballot can do so.
Already, the Right has begun targeting states in which they will challenge the eligibility of voters who show up to the polls. Burdensome voter ID laws threaten to keep some voters from casting a regular ballot, and confusion caused by poorly trained state and county election staff has potentially led to tens of thousands of voters being wrongly purged from voter rolls and could result in more problems on Election Day.
Don't forget the last-minute attempts at voter intimidation and disinformation that we are almost sure to see as Election Day looms closer. The Right has already given us a sneak peak of how low they're willing to with reports last month that they would challenge the eligibility of Michigan voters who had their homes foreclosed on due to the housing crisis -- eligible voters who have been among the hardest hit by the struggling economy.
As part of our Election Protection efforts, People For the American Way Foundation wants to offer you a few ways you can help protect voters' rights and make the election run more smoothly.
1. VOTE EARLY if you can, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Early voting has already started in many states. USA Today reported that up to a third of the electorate this year could cast their ballot before November 4. If you have the opportunity to vote early in your state, either in person or via mail (or a "no excuse" absentee ballot), People For the American Way Foundation urges you to take it. You can find out about early and absentee voting in your state at Vote411.org sponsored by the League of Women Voters Education Fund.
2. Help distribute voter education materials.
Palm cards: We're thrilled to announce that we've partnered with the SEIU to produce educational voter ID palm cards that inform voters of what they need when they show up to cast their ballots. They are state specific and are available for the following states (based on where there are bad voter ID laws and where we expect to see aggressive voter suppression efforts): AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, IN, KS, MI, MO, NC, OH, PA, TX and VA. If you live in one of these states, you can place an order here for palm cards to distribute to voters. (Remember, certain communities are particularly impacted by voter ID laws and voter suppression efforts, among them, the poor, minority voters, the elderly and students.)
Toolkits and flyers: Also available are voter ID toolkits and two-page flyers for the same states as we have palm cards for. People For the American Way Foundation has created these in collaboration with the NEA, SEIU and other state and local partners. We've been getting them to election officials and allies as a resource in training poll workers and people doing voter protection work. These materials are available for you to download and print here.
3. Contribute. There's only 26 days until Election Day and we need your help to make sure that every eligible voter is able to cast a vote that counts. That's 26 days for us to educate as many voters as we can. Please make a tax-deductible gift today to People For the American Way Foundation's nonpartisan Election Protection efforts, including the widespread distribution of the materials mentioned above.
Thank you for your ongoing support for fair elections and our work to protect the vote.
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10 October 2008
I am doing this to make the point that the current attacks by McPalin against Senator Obama claiming his link to terrorists and his criticism of the Iraq occupation and war in Afghanistan are undermining of American troops is a sword with a double edge. Or putting it in language and age level that Palin would grasp, Obama is rubber, you are glue, what bounces off him sticks on you.
But, the McPalin attacks raise some interesting issues. What do we really know of John McCain and his time as a POW? There are so many unanswered questions about "that one". Why did many of his fellows call him the "Songbird" when he was a POW? How was it that he was able to get preferential medical treatment from a Russian doctor while a POW. When Ayers was doing his bad things, Obama was a little boy of only eight years--but, John McCain was an adult, in the hands the Vietnamese cat's paws of Russia. Could he have been brain-washed?
You see! Unanswered questions about McCain abound. There are more.
Why has he done everything that could be done to derail accountability regarding Vietnam's continued failure to account for American POWs and MIAs. Why? What deal was struck?
Could he have been brainwashed? Certainly he would have been a prime candidate; few demonstrated moral convictions, a child of privilege (others in his situation were subjected to different standards) unused to accountability or rigor, and a young man who had no achievement or accomplishment other than "skating by." Don't we remember these as the principal conditions under which a person could be "brainwashed".
Yes, there are many unanswered questions about "this one's" background and secrets. Consider his legendary temper tantrums and outbursts of rage. Aren't these signals of an unstable psyche, of someone not entirely in control of their emotions...someone who has been brainwashed!
OK, there it is. I could go on, but will not. I haven't even brought up his associations with Zionist one-worlders or South African racists. By now you get the point. It is easy enough to smear anyone. We are all vulnerable. Our motives, associations and actions all could be subjected to scrutiny and unfairly cast in an unfavorable light. What I would caution McPalin is to attend to the simple truth once uttered by that great social commentator and peer of the realm, Sir Mick Jagger, "What Goes Around Comes Around".
Here's a couple of examples of how that would work:
08 October 2008
There was a post debate moment when the wives joined the candidates in talking to the audience and Obama extended his hand to McCain and McCain refused to take it. A brief moment, but I'm certain at some point, someone will send it viral.
What a cheesy middle-school act on the part of a man trying to present himself as a mature, sober and experienced world leader.
My personal take is that McCain blew whatever chance for recovery he might have had going into this debate. The internals show that, once again, Obama scored very well with female and, this time, with male independents and undecideds.
I notice also that McCain was heavily dependent on his legal pad of notes and once he went extemporaneous he started to drift, ramble, and bark out things in some sort of weird free-association litany that really had nothing to do with his previous utterance.
Both irritated the hell out of me by refusing to answer the gist of the audience questions choosing instead to re-frame and stay on message with pre-scripted responses. But, I recognize that at this point in the campaign neither wished to introduce any new or different phrase, suggestion or nuance. But, it does piss me off that the first question from the older retiree did not get answered, and later the woman's very direct question about treating health care as a commodity.
This should be a warning to all that the devil is indeed in the details and that the "bail-out" / "rescue" package really does very damned little for ordinary people. Neither of the candidates were able to reach into it and pluck out a meaningful response which said this is how its going to make things better for you!
Brokaw's question about health care was prescient and really served to underscore the "fundamental" differences in the philosophies and beliefs of the two. Obama spoke of it as being a right and McCain spoke of it as being a responsibility. I would have like to have seen Obama talk of it in terms of being a basic human right and so important and elemental that is is invoked in the preamble to the constitution.
Again, Obama did what he needed to do and McCain came up short. Obama came up looking poised, professional, and presidential and McCain came across as the angry, small-town, conservative book-store owner.
07 October 2008
I've been asked if I thought that McCain would look at Obama during the debate tonight after suffering such criticism for his arrogant disdain in their previous meeting.
I would very much be surprised if he has the gall to look him in the face.
Whatever manhood John McCain once had, whatever courage, whatever ethics, strength of character, whatever bit of humanity he may have once had (and, there is legitimate questions as to whether or not he ever really had any such traits) have gone over time, eroded by the winds of avarice, and venality and worn away by the tides of greed, self-indulgence and unbridled ambition.
If he looks it will be the side-long, veiled, calculating glance of the sneak-thief and felon, with the simpering smile of misdirection of a con-man, and the false bon homme of a poseur.
But, it will not be the look in the eyes that a man with an unblemished heart that a man true man shares with an opponent. It will be the look that "old slew foot" saves for the virtuous.
The Ayers's Smear:
"Bill Ayers and Barack Obama have been linked during their time in the city of Chicago, where they lived three blocks apart and led charges for education reform in the state of Illinois. The two met "at a luncheon meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper." Obama was then named to the Chicago Annenberg Project board to oversee the distribution of grants in Chicago. Later in 1995, Ayers hosted "a coffee" for "Mr. Obama's first run for office."
The two served together on a community anti-poverty group, the Woods Fund of Chicago, between 2000 and 2002, during which time the board met twelve times. Ayers also contributed $200 to Obama's re-election fund to the Illinois State Senate in April 2001." Since 2002, there has been little linking Obama and Ayers. Obama says he has not visited Ayers during the presidential campaign. The senator said in September 2008 that he hadn't "seen him in a year-and-a-half." In February 2008, Obama spokesman Bill Burton released a statement from the senator about the relationship between the two: "Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous."
CNN's review of project records found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which the two men were involved. Internal reviews by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times, The New Yorker and The New Republic "have said that their reporting doesn't support the idea that Obama and Ayers had a close relationship." From Wikipedia
Smears and the perpetuation of hate and violence.
Beyond that is the fact that this is a smear campaign generated by the Palin/McCain campaign to divert attention from the fact that no one is buying their "positions" and to stir hatred and mistrust.
People who perpetuate and repeat such distortions are weak and irresponsible people unable to support any positions held by their candidates other than to support hate and fear!
Hate and fear breed violence and we're hearing today of Palin rallies where her cult-like followers are shouting out thins about Obama such as "Kill Him" and "Traitor" and turning on the media covering the rally and making racial-based comments such as "Sit Down Boy"!
It take very little to trigger violence from the unhinged haters and Palin's and McCain's provocative appeals to fear and hatred add to the fury and give tacit support to violent actions. They are taking freedom of speech dangerously close the shout of "fire" in a crowded theater level. Should the inevitable occur, they should be brought before the law.
05 October 2008
Tina Fey: When's the talent portion start?
Brian Williams to Letterman: I'm a maverick and I may not answer your questions!
03 October 2008
A. One of the Stepford Wives, the one with the bad wiring that showed up in a continuous eye twitch.
B. A toy one of my kids had that uttered about twenty phrases when you pulled a cord in its back, and that finally wore down to the point that it said only the same four things over-and-over-and-over again.
C. A character on a recent TV show that was all superior brain and regurgitated so much data in such a rote and precise manner that another character reached out and touched his cheek saying, "Oh, you feel just like a human".
Then it came to me. Toastmasters. She reminded me of a woman I was in Toastmasters with years ago. The same glib, facile, breeziness which utterly avoided the questions. The same tin ear to nuance and shifting focus and rhythm of the debate. The same brittle, I'll rip your heart out and stomp on it, but be so sweet and cute while I'm doing it that you will think I'm just adorable. Wink, wink.
I think that woman managed a small-loan company that eventually went bankrupt because she embezzled all its money through fake loans to herself, family and friends.
That's it, toastmasters. It was like I was watching an accomplished, poised and polished, professional leader of world-class stature dispose of an annoying amateur put forth by the local Jaycees to debate adding a swimming pool to the community playground. No, it wasn't a train wreck, "Fer sure!" It was more like watching the Globetrotters dismantle one of those pick up teams of stiffs they use for props in their games. Swish from half-court. An upside down, hook-shot off the rafters, onto the bleachers, off the wall and nothing but net! Swish! Swish! Swish!
The wing-nuts are all over themselves today because the poor hapless woman managed to string together several simple declarative sentences without drooling down her chin or swallowing her tongue. Never mind that everything that came from her mouth was memorized, and rehearsed, and quite often thrown in gratuitously without any reference to the questions from Iffil, or statements, or responses from Biden.
It was as though she had learned it, "By Golly!", and she knew it needed to be inserted somewhere, and "Heck!" right now is as good a time as any. Nevermind nuance, debate flow, or relevance....I'm supposed to say it, and I'm saying it now before time runs out or I forget it.
Biden, as did Obama in the first debate, came across as smart, knowledgeable, in command, poised and a decent, warm, and caring person. He allowed her enough tether to wrap herself in a Gordian Knot of mis-applied accusation, untruths, and vituperation.
Overnight and early polling and focus groups declare Biden the winner. But, beyond that, the debate moved many undecideds towards Obama/Biden. McCain/Palin were not helped.
Biden treated us to a master class on debate last night. I can hardly wait to watch SNL and see how Tina Fey treats it.
"Oh golly", it will be funny. wink, wink.
02 October 2008
Hell, I'm betting that those folks leave the piney woods of their districts and acquire the taste for silken pajamas and sipping pink daiquiris no matter the level of their conservative outrage at liberal doings when they're back home.
Now, bear with me here, because all this has something to do with something. And that something, is conservative phony outrage.
Here's some recent examples of what I'm taking about. Their latest uproar is that Gwen Iffil, an accomplished, distinguished and award winning journalist who has written an unreleased book whose theme seems to be about how African-American political expectations have changed and come to fruition leading to Barack Obama standing for the presidency. This, has been common knowledge for some time, and certainly should be no surprise for anyone--but, the Republicans are claiming they've been blindsided and Palin will not get a fair shake from Iffil as the debate moderator. Seems, I predicted this several days ago.
Here's another example of their phony outrage, if there are "too many" foreign policy questions in tonight's debate, it will be proof of the media's and Iffil's bias against Palin. Or if she is pressed for specifics, then the "blood thirsty" media is being sexist.
Meanwhile, they, along with a coven of gutless Democrats, are cranking the carcass of our mostly-dead economy through a meat-grinder, rendering up a pork-laden, bailout sausage that promises to do little more than allow some failed banks to operate a little longer and special interests to get their piece of the action.
If one were a conservative, one ought to be frothing at the mouth, and if one were a liberal, one's hair should be on fire over this deal. It is a stark monument to politicians corrupted by lobbyists and owned lock, stock, and pink silk pajamas by their corporate contributors. They natter about "Main Street", and I ask when was the last time you saw any of yours strolling down "Main Street", unless they were trolling for votes or money? Main Street? Don't kid me, like they could find it, without a GPS system?
OK, I'll grant you it's not enough just to gripe, one ought to offer up a solution. OK, here's mine:
First, we need affordable housing that that does not create the need for extreme, unaffordable mortgages and high-risk credit.
Two, we need jobs creation with wages that enable working people, single-moms, seniors, and low-income families to earn enough to buy decent affordable homes without strapping on outrageous mortgages.
Three, here's the how. We loan to those institutions and entities needing the bailout the money they need to get their business straight. But, we take a mortgage on all their assets, not just the bad debt. Every damned thing they've got, including club memberships, corporate jets, cars, villas, vacation homes, real-estate, buildings, bonuses, stock holdings, and the silverware in the executive dining rooms. This will include all but one home and one car of the executives down to vice-president. Every asset of the company, and it's top executive, will be collateral for the loans. Everything! They default, and it is all ours, and we sell it to the highest domestic bidder.
We make the loan to them at cost plus 10% interest. This means, if we have to borrow to make the loan, they pay us the principal, plus the interest we had to pay to get them the damned loan, plus any administrative and legal costs associated with the loan, and 10% on top of that. We will set them up on quarterly payments; a day late, and they're in default, and it is all ours and on the auction block.
During the loan period no executive can earn more than $300,000 a year, and will have to buy their own car and home, and receive no bonuses or "Golden Parachute" exit packages.
We will need the GAO to supervise and audit their operations until their loans are paid, so we will have to add staff in order to accomplish this. No problem, we'll add a surcharge to their quarterly loan payments to offset our added costs.
Our earnings from the interest, and default auctions will be put in a lock-box Superfund to protect Social Security, improve Medicare, create jobs in rebuilding infrastructure and building fair-priced (cost plus-rather than market driven) affordable homes.
Now, since I've solved this financial mess, excuse me while I go get my eyebrows darkened. I just hope I don't run across any Republican politician while I'm there--I might yank his pink daiquiri out of his manicured hands and douse my hair--because right now it is on fire!
And, I'll tell you what That's real outrage about a really outrageous thing.
01 October 2008
A nitwit, you ask. A bit strong and rather uncavalier, you might suggest. Well, I reply, don't just take my word for it. Even conservatives such as George Will and Kathleen Parker are publicly attacking the hapless woman as being dismally unqualified for being the vice-president of a man whose actuarial odds are a bit bleaker than most.
But, nitwit? Surely not. After all she's the governor of more than 600,000 people and that should count for something.
So what, I reply, my congressional district has more people than that and our congressman is a noted nitwit as is our governor--and we've got several cities in Texas with larger populations than the entire state of Alaska.
But, here is a woman, who when asked, can't name a single Supreme Court case other than Rove v. Wade. Or when asked to name a specific newspaper or magazine or other news source, which she turns to for information, stammers around, can't name a single one, and finally issues a dismissive, "oh I read all of them-you know".
Perhaps, we could be generous and forgive her the ignorance which drove her to pronounce that dinosaurs and humans once shared the earth. Certainly we've all read Alley Oop. Even I could forgive her that, since I have my doubts about the educational achievements of her generation. Yep, I'd overlook it, if it were not tied to her creationist, evolution-denying, God did it in six days 6,000 years ago, world view. No damn it, not seven...remember he rested that last day.
And certainly, we all, by now, are aware that she bases her foreign policy expertise on her state's "trade missions" to Russia and Canada. After all, she says, "If that old Putin ever rears his head to invade America, he'll do it in Alaskan air space".
So, I ask you, who am I to argue with the likes of Kathleen Parker and George Will? She is a nitwit!
Tomorrow night she will attempt to debate Joe Biden, and right now the right-wing spinners are bombing the interview shows and "Letters to the Editors" that Sarah's merely showing up and not swallowing her tongue and collapsing on stage will be a tremendous victory over that "old gaffe prone" Biden. They are setting the bar so low for her that a flatworm could not slide under it.
These things I predict: The moderator will bend over backwards to appear "fair and unbiased" toward Palin--particularly since she is African-American and has a pro-Obama book due for release. (Can't you already hear the outcry from the right) Palin will come across as the head cheer-leader campaigning for the Student Council. She will be well-coached and superficially responsive (pat and vague answers) to complicated questions of great complexity, import and depth. And, finally, more people will watch this debate than watched the presidential debate, which proves my point about the failure of education for my younger bothers and sisters.
And, after the debate, she will still be a nitwit, but more people will now know and acknowledge it.