30 December 2010

Time Is On My Side - See You Next Year

Happy New Year

Sure, we have a hell of a fight ahead, but remember these sage words from that emminent social commentator and Peer of the Realm, Sir Mick Jagger, "Time Is On Our Side"

29 December 2010

Ten Things Right-Wingers Will Try to Destroy Economic Recovery

Isaiah J. Poole, Executive Editor of TomPaine.com has compiled a list of the top ten things the right-wing has for its legislative agenda  that will virtually insure the complete destruction of America's middle class.  Here, in order, is a condensed and abridged list of  the items on that agenda.  A link to the full article appearing on AlterNet follows:

1. Repeal Health-Care Reform

Never mind that there are 50-million  Americans now without coverage and repeal would cause an estimated $143-billion increase in the deficit from loss of projected savings and add 20-30 million more people to the uninsured.

2.  Restrain the Federal Government's Ability to Support Job-Creation

If they have their way, you can say goodbye to: Community Development Block Grants, new Small Business Administration initiatives, and the requirement that the Federal Reserve take employment impact into account when it sets monetary policy.

3.  Slash Federal Infrastructure Spending

Anyone remember a bridge collapse in Minnesota that killede rush hour commuters?  While other countries, such as China, are investing heavily in infrastructure, American politicians are hailed as heroes for rejecting projects designed to move goods and people effectively. Think a moment about what that implies for our ability to compete in the global economy.

4.  Dismantle Medicare (and Give Seniors "Vouchers")

Shifting increasing out-of-pocket costs onto seniors rather than restraining the growth of those costs by insurance companies would be one likely outcome of the so called "voucher" system.

5. Undo Financial Reform and Unleash The Predators

Imagine a crime wave in your city.  Now imagine a city council that puts fewer cops on the beat, makes certain the cops are docile, and that harasses those who are not.  Got it? 

6.  Support Big Oil and Kill Green Jobs

The conservatives would have the Environmental Protection Agency serve the polluters rather than the planet!

7.  Don't Just  Cut Government Waste; Cripple Government

George W. Bush said, "turning Clinton's surpluses into huge deficits was incredibly positive news" because it would put government in a "financial straitjacket."  Plans to reduce spending to 2008 levels would deepen the recession and cause the loss of hundreds of thousands more jobs.

8.  Amp up the Insecurity in Social Security

Cutting to the bone, Republicans want the $2.6 trillion trust fund to pay for tax breaks for the very wealthy and offset the costs of two wars.

9. Starve Public Education

Currently, one in four (*25%) of our nation's youths fail the Army Entrance Examination.  That is a problem, and the conservatives want to dismantle the very agency tasked with addressing the problem, the Department of Education.

10. Rob the Poor and Middle Income Americans to Give to the Wealthy

Cutting taxes on the rich and two unfunded wars caused the deficit, now conservatives want  to cut the things government does for the people in the name of reducing the deficit.

Full Article

28 December 2010

Sergeant With a Death Wish

When I served on active duty with the Marine Corps, I served with a medal-of-honor winning staff sergeant with an obvious death wish.  The man was a killer, a stone-cold psychopath that one just did not provoke.  {Provoke, hell--we stayed out of his line of sight, except when duty demanded}.  Duty demnanded we attend his classes on hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting..sheer terror, punctuated by relief when it was over for that week.

He got his medal in Korea for wiping out a machine gun nest of Chinese soldiers and then turning the machine gun on their company position enabling his pinned down platoon to break through and join the rest of the company and regiment on its march to the sea in sub-zero weather while under constant attack.  He had been riding on a tank directing its fire when it was hit by an anti-tank round and he was thrown into an enemy machine gun nest.  Without rifle or sidearm, although already seriously wounded himself, he attacked the five man crew with only his KA-Bar knife.  He killed all five.

At Camp Pendleton, he spent his liberty hours down at the base ranch riding bareback broncos and bulls.  As I said, a pronounced death wish.

I often wonder what his reactions to today's G.I.'s might be.  He didn't seem to be the sort of man who would welcome women or openly gay people into the military.  Look, even back then, he despised enlisted men who were married--"if my Marine Corps wanted you to have a goddamn wife, we'd of given her to you with your friggin' web gear", he'd hiss at any unfortunate asking for liberty to attend to family affairs.

I first met him when I was serving chow during boot camp and he was the Senior Drill Instructor of the motivation platoon.  Now, the motivational platoons, back then, were made up the recruits who couldn't cut it in a regular platoon because they were either wise-asses or bad-asses, or feigning psychosis to get out of their enlistments.  These weren't the overweight or mentally slow ones, they were for a different platoon.  These guys were the incorrigibles, the ones other services would have cashiered or never enlisted in the first place.  The Marine's response was just up crank up the "boot-camp" experience to the power of ten under the supervision of someone, tougher, meaner and crazier than any of his charges for as long as it took to make Marines of them.  Some spent months in boot camp, until they "got with the program".  And, you didn't graduate from the motivation plattoon, when it was determined you were squared away there, you would be assigned to a regular platoon that was just starting on their rotation through the 12-weeks.

So, while serving chow, about my second week in, he marched in the motivational platoon, and at the end of the line began holding out his tray for us to serve--this is different, because all other drill instructors would eat in an area set off for them with a recruit serving them at the table.  But, for whatever reason, he was eating with his platoon and the kid next to me splashed gravy on his blouse.  A tattooed hand shot out across the line, grabbed the kid, lifted him and slammed him on the ground...the kid shrieked and wet himself as one hand, tattooed with LOVE on the fingers, held him down by pressing on his chest just over the heart, and the other, tattooed with HATE, grabbed his Adam's apple, shutting off the squealing as the staff sergeant knelt over the kid  whispering, "You clumsy shit-bird, you do that again and I'll rip out your goddamn heart and eat it!"

That was it. Over in a flash. But it was my first intimation of how thin is the line between life and death and how quickly that line can be crossed.  I did some very serious growing up in that instant.

The thing of it was, after boot camp, he was assigned to my company as a platoon sergeant.  Thankfully, not my platoon...sometimes he'd look at me, and say, "I know you from somewhere."  I never reminded him of where.

The other thing of it is, I made it a point to learn from him everything he taught about hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting.  I've been in a few tights in my life, and only have been beaten down once...but then, I've always been very damned careful not to splash gravy on anyone.

27 December 2010

Christians, Do You Help Shoulder the Cross?

One wonders about Christians, not all of them--but, certainly most of them.

Over the past several weeks I've watched bemusedly (Okay, you got me there. Sometimes with annoyance and hostility) as people calling themselves Christian have demanded that others recognize and accept their right to claim the year-ending,  winter-solstice, holiday season as theirs in recognition of the birth of little baby Jesus. They bleat and blather about Jesus as the "Reason for the Season", one even got holidays confused and tossed in the cross (Easter) as "The True Reason for the Season".  Where I live, in occupied territory in the deepest red zone of East Texas, there are numerous yahoos displaying yard signs reading, "Happy Birthday Jesus".

Sure its sounds snarky to harp on it, but do these people really think their Jesus is driving by taking notes on who is celebrating his birthday (it's not, most biblical scholars think it's probably in September...just when football season is getting under way, and here In Texas, not even Jesus is going to trump that) and who is not--in a minute I'm going to reflect a bit on what he, if there really is such a he might be taking notes on.

You can't imagine the fury I ginned up by challenging, rather gently for me, these arrogant demands that people must shift from what is a pretty much fun, secular-humanist holiday and knuckle under to a puritanical  religious ritual.  "Go to hell", I was told by a sitting judge and one of her supporters.  My brief dissertation on the historic background of Christmas, and why I, and so many others, resent being told that we must cast aside our secular beliefs and adopt the Christian viewpoint, was margenalized as a "rant".

And so it goes.  But, here is what really perplexes me about these folks, and it really has nothing to do with the holiday season and much more to do with, where in the name of hell is the christian outrage at what is happening to so many our brothers and sisters.  Christians, especially the more evangelical fundamentalists, love parables and allegories, so let's give them one.

Jesus is said to have fallen (not really spelled out in their bible--but, one of those, well, everybody knows it kind of things) under the weight of the cross three times.  Only one person helped shoulder it, Simon of Cyrene.  And, here's the thing about that.  He didn't rush out and say, "Let me help you with that old boy".  Hell no, a Roman soldier drafted him to the task!  Which, in my mind, makes him the very first Christian...yeah he did it, but it wasn't out of love or generosity or grace or blessedness or whatever the current catch phrase of the religious right holds sway today.  He was compelled to do so under pressure of authority!

Okay, here's my allegory.  How many of you people calling yourself Christian will pick up and help carry the cross?  Here's some of what it is loaded down with: drug and alcohol addiction and abuse stemming from a desire to deaden the pain of ignorance, unemployment, and institutionalized generational poverty, or men and women selling their bodies in order to obtain that soma against the cruelty of existence in a system which places no value on human spirit, or older and elderly people merely existing, not living, at the edge of starvation in the midst of aloneness. Oh, I could go on, but you surely get the picture.

When you shoulder those pieces of the cross, then I might believe there is some honesty in your sanctimonious posturings.  I'm not talking about tithing, or a few bucks in the collection plate, or a blanket or coat in cold weather, and then back to your life, fading like Simon back to the obscurity of the crowd.

Got it?

21 December 2010

An Interactive, Secular-Humanist X-Mas Card

We are celebrating the Holiday Season in the best mithraic tradition in high anticipation of the approaching climax of the saturnalia, and will resume our writings on Monday, December 27th.

Meanwhile, click on the link below for your very own interactive, secular-humanist X-mas card!

Did you know that the puritans banned christmas celebrations for several decades?  And, that the bible makes absolutely no reference to christmas?  And were you aware that biblical scholars agree that Jesus, according to biblical writings, could not have been born in December---and most likely was born in March, September, or perhaps early November.  You should also know that what we now call "christmas" was essentially a pagan celebration up until Pope Gregory the First, sometime around 600 AD, commanded his bishops to merge local practices into church rituals in order to expand the church's influence.

20 December 2010

Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, Dorothy Parker::The Wisdom of Women

Dorothy Parker


“Razors pain you;

 rivers are damp;

 acids stain you;

 and drugs cause cramp.

 Guns aren't lawful;

 nooses give;

 gas smells awful;

 you might as well live.”

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."

Molly Ivins

"If you think his daddy had trouble with 'the vision thing,' wait'll you meet this one,"  On George W. Bush

"If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili," On Bill Clinton

Ann Richards

I'm really glad that your young people missed the Depression and missed the big war. But I do regret that they missed the leaders that I knew, leaders who told us when things were tough and that we'd have to sacrifice, and that these difficulties might last awhile. They brought us together and they gave us a sense of national purpose.”

"Let me tell you, sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is a lot dirtier than anything I've had to deal with in politics."

"Power is what calls the shots, and power is a white male game."

I wish they were here today! Instead, we have Sarah Palin and what a disaster she is.  Which, brings us to a final quote, "You can put lipstick on a pig and call her Monique.  But, she' still a pig!"

16 December 2010

Alcohol, Drugs, Consumerism, & Religion:: The Elephant In The Room

Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence.
Hold to the truth within yourself, as to the only truth.
..............................Gautama Siddahartha (the Buddha)
I often wonder why my fellow Americans allow to happen the things they do.  How is it that we countenance institutionalized poverty, hunger, deprivation, generational joblessness, endless war, deterioration of public education, and the take-over, by stateless international corporations, of virtually all levels of governance and our military? 
How is it that people, who start off life essentially decent and well-meaning, can ignore our slow creep into Fascism, aided and abetted by neo-liberal economists of the Friedman school of economic theory?
I think I know part of the answer.  Like combat veterans who know horror and choose to bury it deep in their psyches, where it lies festering, painfully leading to eventual self-medication through alcohol, drugs or violent and otherwise dysfunctional behaviors, we ignore the obvious, the pile of reeking crap in the room left by the elephant who lives with us. We anesthetize ourselves with drugs, alcohol, religion and consumerism to enable to ignore that which is piling up around us.
We find diversion, resort to quick highs or sense deadening lows, and buy, buy, buy!  And let us not forget the "opiate of the masses", religion--in American, most notably the various Protestant sects.
So much of Protestantism in America today has morphed into this really odd sort of creature; part boosterism of self-indulgent, individual prosperity,  blind, jingoistic loyalty to the state, with self-righteous insistence that Gaaawwwwd and JeeeSUS blesses it all, and that all the problems on earth will go away when the trumpet sounds so it's alright to ignore them as long as we're being "blessed" and successful in our search for affluence.
Christians of this ilk will fervently, with unforgiving, hard-eyed resolve, insist that Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of little baby Jesus--"the reason for the season", while ignoring the historic truth that the man was born in September, as near as theologians and historians can determine!  And, the other elephant pile of truth, that the whole of Christmas festivity was co-opted by Christians from earlier "pagan" religions.
They assuage their rightfully felt unease with an extra holiday dollar or two in the collection plate, or serve an hour or two on a holiday food line, or toss an out-of=date can of green beans or threadbare old blanket in a collection bin in the church vestibule without ever having to actually see or touch a "poor person".
I would suggest that they acquaint themselves with the writings of theologian Emmet B. Fox: The Sermon on the Mount and The Ten Commandments.  Here they would find, from those wonderful historical and philosophical texts, the old and new testaments, the constant truth about how to live one's daily life so that one is truly "blessed".

15 December 2010

Boomers, Xers, Millennials - Social Security is Yours: Fight to Save It!

Confused about Social Security?  Think it's going bankrupt?  Think it's driving up the deficit?  Here's Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, putting the lie to these misconceptions.

14 December 2010

A Progressive Rallying Point: 2012

Last week, I wrote, and copied here, a letter to President Obama, asking him to exercise the political fortitude and personal courage to come before the American people and announce that he would not seek reelection in 2012, leaving the way open for the democratic wing of the Democratic Party to find a viable progressive candidate.  This, I strongly believe, would allow him to focus on doing his job for the American people, all of them--he so proudly claims to represent, without thought or worry to reelection or his place in history.

Of course he will not do anything of the sort.  And, if the response of his loyalists and apparatchiks over the past week are any indicator, he is going to entrench and move even further to the right.  But, we've hit a nerve and the reactions are predictable.  We need now to take the initiative.

Progressives, liberals and leftists are currently without much representation and not taken seriously by the corporate media.  We are told that if we mount any serious opposition to Obama and his coterie of neo-liberal economic advisers, we will fracture the Democratic Party, thereby insuring even deeper defeats than 2010.  Stuff and nonsense!  One of the "not being discussed at all" results of the 2010 elections is that democrats who tried to be centrists and moderate republicans LOST!  Democrats are already fractured, without platform, or true leadership.

So, what is left (hah) for a leftist, progressive, liberal to do?  Let me direct your worthy attention to this article, which lays out a vision, a starting point, and in current political jargon, a way forward.  Simply click HERE

We on the left; largely spurned by our own party, derided or blithely ignored by the corporate media, and ridiculed and made the strawman of all that is wrong with America by the rabid right, often feel alone and without organization or structure.  Not so.  Envision being a part of a unified progressive movement speaking with solidarity from a platform based on a spiritually humanistic world view.  Interested?  Click HERE

Together, we can!

13 December 2010

Obama's Tax Deal, Social Security: Beginning Of The End

Proposed Tax Deal: Poison Pill for Social Security

President Obama announced a tentative deal with Congressional Republicans a week ago today to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for two years. The package would reduce the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax on all wage earners by two percentage points, to 4.2%, for one year. However, the package would cost about $900 billion over the next two years, and would be financed entirely by adding to the national debt. The deal would also extend unemployment benefits at their current level for 13 months, through the end of 2011.

The Social Security payroll tax cut is estimated to cost $120 billion per year, and is a provision that Senate Democrats say could ultimately be the undoing of Social Security. Allowing the payroll tax to expire in a year will mean that workers will see a nearly 50% jump in payroll taxes as the rate reverts back -- an event that is likely to be described as a tax hike. According to The Huffington Post, reducing a person's responsibility to contribute to Social Security also deprives the program of the political and moral capital that has kept the program intact despite fierce opposition from a determined investor class. In arguing against the deal, Nancy Altman, head of the group Social Security Works, noted that such responsibility was put into place by FDR for just that purpose. To see more from FDR on the topic, Click Here

Altman said that dividing the stimulus evenly by simply sending an equal check to every worker would be far more desirable. Both the Senate and the House are expected to debate and vote on the proposal early this week.

Tax Cuts for the Rich, Republicans Kill $250 for Seniors

A proposal to provide seniors an emergency payment of $250 was blocked last Wednesday by Republican-led opposition in the House and Senate. The measure would have provided the one-time payment to 58 million Social Security recipients in lieu of an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This is the second consecutive year that Social Security beneficiaries did not receive a COLA. Senior advocates note that the Consumer Price Index in Social Security, which measures the rate of inflation, does not accurately reflect the rate of inflation faced by seniors who spend a huge amount of their income on health care. Alliance for Retired American members sent more than 5,400 e-mails letting their representative and senators know that they were counting on them to vote in favor of the payment. The bill, S. 3985, required 60 votes to shut off a filibuster in the Senate, but failed 53-45. No Senate Republicans voted for it. To see how your Senators voted, go HERE.

The proposal also failed in the House for passage under House Suspension Calendar rules. There, the measure came up short, 254-153, with 141 Republicans voting against it. Under those rules, two-thirds of members present and voting were necessary for the bill, H.R. 5987, to pass. To see how your representative voted, go HERE

In arguing for the $250, Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) mentioned the Alliance for Retired American's support on the House floor. “This legislation is critical to retirees, but unfortunately, congressional Republicans overwhelmingly chose to oppose it,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

09 December 2010

Social Security Recipients: GOP> "DROP DEAD!"

Dear Seniors, retirees, widows, orphans, and disabled workers,

Drop Dead!


Your Republican Representatives & Senators


Dear Wealthiest Americans,

See you at the country club, the deal's done.  He caved in quicker than my wife's first souffle.

 Venally Yours,

Your Republican Representatives & Senators

PS  My numbered Swiss account remains the same as before

08 December 2010

Letter To Obama: Stand down!

December 8, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C.20500

Dear Mr. President,

I regret to inform you that I find your naivete' appalling and frightening.

You often remark that, in effect, you're representing all the people of America.  In theory, at sort of a ninth grade civics class sort of way, you're correct.  But, in reality there are anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of the population who would gladly burn crosses on the White House lawn and drag you and your family out into the cold December night and hang you before setting fire to your corpses.  Do you truly believe that you represent them, or that by extending a hand you will change them?

This mindlessly, lunatic rabble is financed, encouraged, and abetted by nameless, faceless corporations that know no national boundaries nor any sense of patriotism toward our nation.  They are the vanguard of international fascism, and in no sense of the word do they believe that you "represent" them. They are the masters of destruction, they use our legislature to further their own aims, they use our military to advance their worldwide goals and to advance their profits--do you truly believe that you "represent" them?

I worked long and hard (as did millions of others) to help get you elected.  As a cancer survivor, I used strength and energy I could not spare. As a Social Security recipient, I contributed money that I could ill afford to part with. I did these things because I believed you when you promised to rein in and corral the liars, thieves, cut-purses and mendicants of Wall Street and banking.  I believed you when you said you would extract us from two unfunded wars of invasion and occupation of non-belligerent sovereign nations. I believed you when you said you would lead us in the fight to bring to heel the hell-hounds of the drug and insurance companies and provide all Americans with an opportunity for quality, affordable health care. And, I believed you when you said you would bring an end to the Bush tax-cuts, which further enrich the already wealthy while diminishing the middle-class and further impoverishing the already poor and destitute.

I believed you were a man of strength, courage and fortitude.  I believed you would provide leadership against some very dark and strong forces undermining every precept of representative democracy.  I believed that you would help us climb out of the abyss of cynicism and insane self-indulgence  wrought by the dry-drunk sociopath who preceded you in the White House.

I watch as your supporters rightfully desert you.I have watched as you have silently suffered insult and attack without response. And sadly, after two years of capitulation, compromise, and weakness, I see no way back for you.  You have exhausted my trust and belief.  You have failed to accomplish that which you were elected to do.  I am saddened and sickened by this.

I encourage you to take the first opportunity to come before the American people and announce that you will not seek a second term in order to allow the Democratic party to find a candidate worthy of the office.  Perhaps, without the distraction of re-election considerations or eye toward your place in history, you could find the time, stamina and will to truly represent those Americans who elected you!


Shane Fox

07 December 2010

Call To Action: $250 Emergency Social Security Payment

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are both scheduled to vote on Wednesday, December 8 on a $250 emergency payment to seniors. The payment would go to seniors, veterans, disabled individuals, and railroad retirees who did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2010 through Social Security or other programs, as well as retired government workers who do not receive Social Security benefits. These beneficiaries received a similar payment in 2009.

TAKE ACTION - -Click on this link:  HERE


This is the second consecutive year that Social Security beneficiaries did not receive a COLA. As you know, the Consumer Price Index in Social Security (CPI-W), which measures the rate of inflation, does not accurately reflect the rate of inflation faced by seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries who spend a huge amount of their income on health care. The $250 emergency payment will help with medical, pharmaceutical, and other costs of daily life in these difficult times.  Gasoline prices are climbing once again, insurance *(Gap plans and Medicare Part D plans) premiums are soaring, and an early and harsh winter will cause heating bills to mount up for those on limited and fixed incomes.

The Senate will need 60 votes to stop a filibuster and pass this measure. The House will need a simple majority of votes. You need to make your voices heard.  Simply click the link above to get the phone number and contact information for your representative as well as the main Capitol switchboard.

But, don't delay.  The vote is tomorrow; and the Republicans have already declared war on the middle class and unemployed....Stop them from doing the same thing to Social Security recipients!

Let your representative and senators know that you are watching them and that you are counting on them to protect you by voting in favor of the emergency payment for seniors.  We need your call, please do it now!

06 December 2010

Deficit Commission Fail: Big Win For Seniors & Working Families

American baby boomers, seniors and retirees dodged a bullet last Friday when the National Commission on Fiscal Reform and Responsibility's members rejected their co-chair's (*Erskine Boles & Alan Simpson) proposal to drastically cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age.

On this rare occasion, sanity and reason trumped ideology, ignorance and venality. We must never again try to balance the federal budget on the backs of current and future retirees, especially when it is an incontrovertible fact that social security has not added a single cent to the current deficit crises.  Indeed, members of the commission included in their report to President Obama words acknowledging that Social Security has not contributed to the deficit!

It is a brutal irony that those members of the commission most ready to chop apart Social Security are the same crew of right-wingers that are leading the fight to extend Bush's tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.  When one protests this, their retort is that the protester is engaging in "class" warfare.  As though socking it to working families and retirees to enrich the already wealthy is not class warfare.  Somewhat akin to a mugger telling the judge that his victim, who fought back, assaulted him.

The defeat of these draconian cuts to Social Security did not come easy.  Working families, retirees, and future retirees and their supporters mobilized and stood strong while letting commission members know there would be a heavy price if they pursued  a course of attack on one of America's greatest success story.  The week before the vote, progressive activists from many allied organizations joined with the Alliance for Retired Americans in a national call-in day which shut down the capitol switchboard--which is designed to process 7,000 calls at a single instant.

We can hope that this augers a new chapter in debating and solving the issues related to the preservation of Social Security for generations to come.  Solutions must be sought, but, those solutions must strengthen--not weaken--the economic security and well-being of millions of older Americans, widows, orphans and disabled workers.  Social Security has kept generations out of poverty and it must be protected and preserved for all future generations.

02 December 2010

Texas State Rep. Leo Berman: A National Embarrassment

Texas state representative (REP-D6), Leo Berman, once again embarrasses himself and Texas with his outlandish insistence that President Obama is not an American citizen.  When confronted with facts by CNN's Anderson Cooper, he attempts to wiggle away with lies and falsehoods stacked upon internet right-wing, conspiracy-nut rumors.  Cooper annihilates him with documented facts.

Berman claims he is a decorated, retired army officer *(Artillery).  However a cursory web search yielded no supporting documentation, and since Berman has sponsored at least two bills building walls of secrecy around military service records, *(TX HB198 & HB199) one can use his rather feverish logic, and suppose he is hiding something from us.  All I could find, were mostly self-generated by him, supporters, or his staff.  He claims to be a colonel, but after his alleged 22-years of service, he seems to have only made the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  In the military, that failure to make what is called "the colonel's list" is an indicator of some sort of problem!

I wonder if we can get him to release his DD214 for public scrutiny.

Indeed, it appears that full colonel rank (of which he so proudly boasts and struts) was an honorific bestowed on him by the Texas National Guard or Civil Air Patrol.  I was once the adjutant of a Marine Corp League chapter in Illinois, but do not wave that title in my personal or political life.  Nor do I attach it to my regular military service in the Marine Corps.

I've met Berman, twice, and unlike Will Rogers, I found a man I disliked.  He is, what we called in the Marine Corps, a "feather merchant", a wee little man suffering from the "short man's disease", with a battleship mouth and row-boat ass.  He spews a lot of bile and hate, and makes a lot of noise and gains a lot of media attention doing so.  But, as the current cliche' goes, upon close examination, there is just no there, there!



And, lest you think I am misconstruing this guy's idiocy, here, decide for yourself:

01 December 2010

Young Parents: Get A Yardstick!

There is a point in every young parent's life, particularly the mother, when it becomes realized that despite the intense delight and passionate pleasure during the process of conception, there has been brought forth into the world a psychopath!  This realization usually hits somewhere between the child's age of two and five.  Regrettably, the derangement continues up to about the age of 25 to 28.

Comedian Bill Cosby calls them "brain damaged"!  Brain damaged or psychopathic, the end result is the same.  At about the age that a person begins gaining their own sanity, they become the caretakers of the criminally insane.  Sweet, cuddly little toddlers become fiendish pre-schoolers more influenced by the worst behaving brat in day-care than by parents or teachers. Sharps have to be placed not just out of reach, but under lock and key, as do medicines and toxic and caustic substances less they be given or applied to family pets, a younger child, or merely self-ingested just for the hell of it.

This particular form of mental derangement's onset demonstrates displays of obstinacy regarding personal hygiene and/or fulfilling the human need for sleep. Those who have descended the deepest into their madness often will eschew all forms of nourishment other than Gummy Bears coated with honey or macaroni and cheese slathered with ketchup.  But, bath and bedtime, once ritualized and predictable occasions of bonding and sweet affection, become the kill zones of deadly fire-fights with no quarter given.  Banshee like shrieks of retribution from the parent, loud and shrill enough to cause neighborhood dogs to waken and wail, and to shatter Aunt Mildred's wedding gift crystal, merely feed the child's distemper.  Milder one's whimper, whine, beg and plea while the more aggressive resort to running naked to hide under the bed or the darkest recesses of the closet--despite earlier avowals that a "hairy monster" resides there and that it would be utterly impossible and life-threatening to sleep under those conditions.

People who once went to country fairs and home shows for the displays and rides now head there for one thing and one thing only: Free Yardsticks!  Wise ones will get several, as the newer, more flexible ones, break rather easily.

Dressmakers use them to measure hems and skirt or dress length from the floor.  But not so with young parents.  They have no time for for dressmaking.  Their intent is self-preservation!  At wit's end and fully cognizant of the criminal penalties for what they now murderously contemplate each night at bath or bed time, they seek an advantage.  And, they know, either from their own experience, or perhaps instinctively, that a well-used yardstick is the perfect weapon of intimidation.

Properly used by a fearless parent, order can be restored to the ward without resulting to strait-jackets, drugs, or duct tape.  Like all psychopaths, the young child is wholly motivated, even driven, by a fear-based instinct for self-preservation.  Once applied to the brat's butt, the yardstick assumes a life of its own.

Upon hearing the words, "Do I need the yardstick?", all but the most recalcitrant quickly determine that it is best to choose one's battles carefully, and that right now perhaps is not the time.  Sometimes, with the brighter ones, all that is needed is a parent's longing look at the yardstick, even without a suggestion of a move in its direction, to be sufficient to alter the situation and bring about docility and compliance.

The additional advantage of the yardstick is that it extends the parent's reach by three feet and can't be easily eluded or dodged, and becomes the perfect tool to rout the misbehaving youngster from under the bed or dark corner of the closest.

A word of caution is needed.  Be careful, despite the provocation, to see to it that only the flat side, rather than the edge, is used.  Even the most callused little butt might show a mark if it were...and that could launch inquiries from those pesky and nosy CPS people!

And that's a whole other thing!

12 November 2010

Fiscal Commission Proposal: "Ridiculous!", says Retiree Leader

On Wednesday, the co-chairmen of the White House Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, released their ideas for dealing with the country’s massive debt. The recommendations are from Simpson and Bowles only, and do not represent the opinions of the full commission.

The proposals include a reduction in Social Security cost-of-living increases for current retirees; a reduction in Social Security benefits for most future retirees; and a hike in the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075.

In response, Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said, “The Bowles-Simpson proposal is not a package we can support.  In fact, it is a package we will strongly oppose. While seniors are more than willing to pay their fair share to reduce the nation’s debt, we must not turn to them to pay off such a huge portion of what was accumulated by the entire country.”  He also said that raising the retirement age to 69 is not a viable solution, when so many older workers in difficult jobs are already struggling.

He added, “The Social Security cuts would hit current retirees, contrary to what was promised, since the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) seems to take effect immediately. This will lower seniors’ benefits by about 3% after they have been retired for 10 years, and by about 6 % after 20 years.” He said that changing the CPI is an attack on the middle class, since today’s 20-year old workers who retire at age 65 would see their benefits cut by 17% if their wages average $43,000 over their working lives.

He also called it “ridiculous” that billionaires pay the same amount into the system as someone earning $106,800, the current cap. He stressed that a better proposal would be requiring employees (and their employers) who make more than $106,800 a year to pay Social Security taxes on all their wages, not the 90% in the proposal. Coyle concluded, “We must not bully seniors into shouldering such a massive percentage of the debt while Wall Street millionaires once again just skate on through scot-free.” 

To see the co-chairs’ proposal, go to http://bit.ly/ajfG8p . To see “Ten Reasons the Social Security Proposal of the Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs Should be DOA (Dead on Arrival)” from Social Security Works, where the Alliance is a member of the Steering Committee, go to http://bit.ly/dxDI77. To see Mr. Coyle’s full statement, go to http://bit.ly/by0k67.

10 November 2010

Marine Corps Birthday

On this day, 235 years ago, by an act of congress the United States Marine Corps was created.  In Philadelphia recruiting began immediately at Tun Tavern, a combination saloon and bordello---to this day it is believed that a good marine is never far from either!


08 November 2010

Dallas Cowboy Jokes!

The Texas State Police are cracking down on speeders heading into Dallas. For the first offense, they give you 2 Dallas Cowboy tickets. If you get stopped a second time, they make you use them.

Q. What do you call 47 millionaires around a TV watching the Super Bowl?

A. The Dallas Cowboys

Q. What do the Dallas Cowboys and Billy Graham have in common?

A. They both can make 100,000 people stand up and yell "Jesus Christ".

Q. How do you keep a Dallas Cowboy out of your yard?

A. Put up a goal post.

Q. What do you call a Dallas Cowboy with a Super Bowl ring?

A. Old

Q. What's the difference between the Dallas Cowboys and a dollar bill?

A. You can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill.

Q. How many Dallas Cowboys does it take to win a Super Bowl?

A. Nobody remembers.

Q. What do the Cowboys and a possums have in common?

A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road!

The police picked up a little boy wandering along the highway, when the questioned the boy he said "My mom beats me.". When they asked about his father, he replied "he beats me too". Finally they asked where he want to go and exclaimed, "the Dallas Cowboys cuz the don't beat anybody!"

A man and his dog are at a bar watching the Cowboys play, and the Cowboys score a TD. The dog does a back flip and then moonwalks. The bartender says,"That is awesome! What does he do when the Cowboys win?" The dog's owner says, "I don't know. I have only had him for two years."

03 November 2010

The Election Is Over. What Now?

So, what does it all mean?

Frankly, I do not think anyone really knows.  When President Obama was elected, with a Senate and House majority, there was widespread expectation (hope?) of change.  Well, as the current cliche' goes, How's that turned out for you?

Here, in my view, is how it turned out.  Our GIs are still locked in hot engagements in the Mideast and central Asia (OK, maybe in Iraq, just hunkered down behind the bunkers waiting for the next wave of violence targeting them); unemployment is worse than even in the Eisenhower years; no meaningful new regulation or restrictions on unbridled and pernicious capitalism exploiting America's working families; tepid reform of health care, which in the long run will be a big bonus for drug and insurance companies; and the vocal and willfully ignorant thirty-five percent of the electorate calling themselves tea-bags have captured the attention of the posturing Hoople-Heads of the national and local media and landed a few elections in what are mostly red states any way--sort of like over coloring crimson with scarlet.

Hardly what we expected from an Obama administration, right?  But, it's what we got and where we are.

My suspicion is that the Republicans will mistakenly act as though they have a mandate to destroy Social Security by handing it over to the liars, thieves, cut-purses, mendicants, dementers and death-eaters of Wall Street.  They will attempt to further enrich their insurance czar and drug company oligarch buddies by attempting to "privatize" Medicare and the Veteran's Administration health care system.  They will do this under the banner of "reducing the size of government and bringing down the deficit".

On it's face, this is an obvious lie:  The services and health care will still have to be delivered and the costs will still be there, but instead of well managed and regulated, and very cost effective, federal programs that protect Americans from the avarice of faceless corporations, we would be saddled with the Huns, Visigoths and Vandals of health care for profit companies freed to rampage through the pocket books of Americans of all persuasions.

That is the change they are promising.  Very quickly they will run into the same realities that progressives have encountered with Obama, we don't control history--history controls us!  They are facing some hard and bitter truths beyond the rhetoric and posturing that helped them gain some level of ascendancy in this by-year election.  Democrats still control  the Senate and the White House and have enough House seats to impede them.  Reid remains majority leader in the Seante and Pelosi will be house minority leader, second guessing Boehner as he did her.  Nearly half the Blue-Dog Democrats lost their seats to real Republicans--meaning that the Democrats have the opportunity to assess themselves regarding their progressive roots.  The Democrats, having been dope-slapped behind the head, should awaken, abandon pretensions to the center or right, and take this opportunity assume a more unified opposition to the Republican's outlandish notion of fiscal management.

Republicans will find that this election was about anger rather than an endorsement of their policies, and they will find, as progressives found after 2008, that the promise of change is easily made, but delivering on that promise is not easy, and that they have set themselves up for monumental future distrust.

01 November 2010


By all means vote! But, this is one of those critical elections when just voting is not enough.  Take a sick day, a vacation day, or a comp day and work the election.

Drivers are needed to help get people to the polls, people are needed to make phone calls to voter lists to make sure they have voted, or are going to, and volunteers are critically needed to serve as poll watchers to make certain the Republicans do not get away with their usual intimidation or voter suppression ploys.  IN TEXAS YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOW ANY ID OTHER THAN YOUR REGISTRATION CARD TO VOTE!

Just call your county Democratic Party office, tell them where you reside, and they'll get you plugged in to the process.  Sure, we need your vote to offset all the corporate money being thrown into this election cycle--but to win, we need a huge turnout.

We won something big in 2008, now we're having to fight to keep it!

28 October 2010

VOTE! ::: Our Endorsements Listed

We need public officials working for us who understand how hard it can be to pay your bills every month, and how expensive it can be to see a doctor and get a prescription filled. We have all heard of the schemes to privatize Social Security in the chaos and greed of Wall Street stock markets, and to turn Medicare into a voucher program where the insurance companies call the shots, all while the wealthiest Americans get more and bigger tax breaks.

This November 2, we are standing with candidates who fight for seniors and working families. We are proud to endorse the candidates below, who will represent TEXAS, you, and your family in these tough economic times. We strongly encourage you to get out and vote November 2, or cast your vote early if you can, and to support these pro-working family candidates.

We have endorsed these candidates

Bill White - Governor
Linda Chavez-Thompson - Lt. Governor
Hector Uribe - Attorney General
Hank Gilbert - Land Commissioner
Blake Bailey - Texas Supreme Court

John Lingenfelder – Dist. 3
Tom Berry – Dist. 5
Rep. Al Green – Dist. 9
Ted Ankrum – Dist. 10
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa – Dist. 15
Rep. Silvestre Reyes – Dist. 16
Rep. Chet Edwards – Dist. 17
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee Dist. 18
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez – Dist. 20
Lainey Melnick – Dist. 21
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez – Dist. 23
Rep. Lloyd Doggett – Dist. 25
Rep. Neil Durrance – Dist. 26
Rep. Solomon Ortiz – Dist. 27
Rep. Henry Cuellar – Dist. 28
Rep. Gene Green – Dist. 29
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson – Dist. 30

To see just how current members of Congress have voted to support you and your family, click on the link below, then point at your state and click again. You will see how every member of your state delegation voted on issues vital to you and your family: HERE

Thank you for supporting the candidates who have fought to:

Protect Social Security from privatization, raising the retirement age and benefit cuts
Pass a $250 Social Security payment in place of a 2010 COLA
Help lower drug costs and close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole
End Medicare co-pays and deductibles for life-saving screenings and tests
Help early retirees afford health insurance
Create a way for middle-class families to get long-term care for a loved one.

Thanks again for your support.
Remember to vote on November 2.

27 October 2010

Cognitive Dissonance: A Republican Affliction

Where Republicans are concerned, I am not entirely certain how to regard them.  Obviously, they are utterly out of tune and, for the most part, unwitting dupes of huge international corporations with no loyalties other than to their own unrestrained growth and unregulated profiteering.

Maybe it's ignorance that causes otherwise, seemingly, rational human beings to forsake logic and take such outlandish positions or do so many deplorable things as do Republicans.  Ignorance?  Well maybe.  But, with the amount of real information available and easily accessible, mere ignorance does not quiet fit the description.  Well then, maybe willful ignorance?  You know, that's when someone refuses to allow facts, logic or reason to alter their mindset.  But, what I think best describes it is "cognitive dissonance".  That's when one knows the facts but just doesn't get it!  You know the type, someone who, for years, has been beating themselves on the noggin with a ball-peen hammer in expectation of curing a headache and who never succumbs to the obvious knowledge that they are the source of their own pain.  See!  Cognitive dissonance.

Either that, or the bozos are all, each and every damned one of them, dumber than a gunny sack filled with wet Neches river mud and muck!

But Shane you say, surely that doesn't apply to all Republicans, and, by the way, surely you must have some Republican friends.

To which, grinning my very best spider to the fly "gotcha" smirk, I reply.  Yes it does, and no I don't!

Certainly I know some Republicans, and even socialize with them on rare occasions, and can't help but regard some as acquaintances, but friends?  Hell no!  You see my friends don't try to cripple Medicare and undo health reform at the behest of Drug Oligarchs and Insurance Tsars.  My friends don't engage in race and gay baiting.  My friends don't try to vilify the President and undermine the will of the majority.  My friends try to build unity between all people rather than working to keep them apart and angry, afraid and mistrustful.  My friends don't try to force their narrow religious views upon society as a whole, and certainly recognize that religious expression can take many legitimate forms.

My friends do not view single working moms and dads, older Americans, the unemployed, and working families as leeches simply because they make use of the various social and economic safety nets we've put into place to offset the disparities of wealth created by a perniciously competitive economic system.  My friends do not try to rip asunder those safety nets in the spurious name of economic responsibility.

See, that's why I have no Republican friends.  The bastards are out to get me and I am not about to extend any sense of friendship to them.

Do those descriptions fit all Republicans?  Well, let me put it this way.  You bring to me one registered Republican in support of protecting Social Security as it is right now, preserving and improving Medicare, and extending unemployment benefits with free job retaining and relocation support to the unemployed and I will shake that new friend's hand in Nieman Marcus's window on Christmas Eve.

26 October 2010

Fight Back - Don't Lose Your Vote

Protection Available for Those Who Experience Problems While Voting

Ten years have passed since the "hanging chad" problem in Florida, and since then a majority of states across the nation have overhauled their voting methods in hopes of simplifying the process and making it more accurate.

One of the most pronounced changes has been the move away from lever and paper voting in favor of optical and electric voting methods. However, limited funds for voting equipment and rapidly aging voting machines in some areas are an indication that the country is not immune from problems re-emerging. In addition, voter suppression occurred recently when a front group called "Latinos for Reform," run by a major donor to former President George W. Bush, was caught running television ads in Nevada telling Hispanic voters NOT to vote on November 2nd as a way of protesting. The ads are now off the air.

The following resources focus on election protection. They are produced by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, who have set up a national hotline for any voting problems: 1-866-Our-Vote.

For information on fundamental voting rights and commonly asked questions, go to http://www.866ourvote.org/elections-101.

For pages with state-specific laws and pdf's with more detailed information on your state's election laws, click on http://www.866ourvote.org/state.

In addition, for information on the voting rights of the disabled from the National Disability Rights Network, go to http://bit.ly/bokzr8.

"Voters can go the polls with peace of mind, knowing that the system has improved," said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. "However, if you do experience a problem, help is available. Don't go home without casting your ballot."

25 October 2010

What It Will Take For White To Win

Texas Democrats have some very harsh truths to face as they head into the final week of the elections.  The Texas Lyceum Poll (the most reliable of all the polls) puts Perry ahead of White by 5% percentage points.  Now, given that there is always a margin of error of 2 - 3 percentage points, White could be closer or further than the original number projects.

Perry has virtually all the Republicans and conservatives ready to vote for him, while, White has done an outstanding job of solidifying the traditional Democratic base, and winning over a majority of younger and independent voters.  There is no doubt that White will show better than any Democrat in a very, very long time. But, here's the rub. The undecided pool is only 3% and that is an extremely small segment from which White can draw to overtake Perry.

Undecideds at this point in a politcal campaign are usually uneducated, uninterested, and uninvolved and are more easily swayed by emotion and buzz words than reason or logic.  Perry wins on that score.

In order to win, White is going to have to find voters missed by the polls.  The campaigns of Hector Uribe and Linda Chavez-Thompson in South Texas and "The Valley" combined with Hank Gilbert's focus on rural voters might be the source of those votes.  Those demographics generally are under represented in the polls and could be the "sleepers" that would propel White into the Governor's mansion (or trailer).

Even so, the key to those votes lie with the strength of grassroots activists to mobilize and deliver voter turn-out on election day.  There is one more week of early voting and reports are that the Democratic precincts are witnessing strong turn-out.  It waits to be seen if that energy will be there in the form of car-pooling, phone-banking, and card-pushing come election day.

Without it, Democrats will mollify themselves with, "At least we have something to build on, and then proceed to turn on themselves gnawing and tearing away like gut-shot wolves!"

20 October 2010

Texans: Vote Early, Here's Why!

Arson investigators are tracking down the cause of a mysterious fire that destroyed all of the Harris County Texas voting machines several weeks ago.  Other counties have loaned some of theirs to Harris County with the net effect that there will be fewer voting machines in Harris County and those counties that have reduced their inventory through loaning.  Fewer voting machines mean longer lines, delays and frustration on election days along with increased reliance on time consuming error prone paper ballots.

While we won't jump to conclusions and make precipitous accusations we will acknowledge that the area affected is that with the highest concentration of Democratic voters.  Now, in this most critical election when Democrats stand a very good chance of reclaiming some statewide offices, it becomes absolutely essential for activists, organizers and leaders to promote early voting to beat the upcoming crunch.

In early voting one can go at one's own convenience without facing a one-day by 7:00 pm deadline.  Additionally, it frees you to work on election day by making GOTV phone calls or car pooling voters to the polls.

We're already hearing of closer scrutiny of voters and demands for proof of identity and eligibility.  If you encounter this situation late on election day, you may very well lose your opportunity to vote.  Early vote gives you advance time to clear things up if you encounter this.

Voting is the issue, but early voting ensures that you get to vote, your vote will count and affords a way for your party's leaders to gauge voter mood in order to craft efforts and messages right up to election day.

The last day for early voting is Friday, October 29---but, don't wait till the last day, VOTE EARLY!

13 October 2010

David's Return To Italy

Michelangelo's"David" was given in loan to the USA two years ago.  Below is a picture upon arrival in the U.S.

Now the statue is being returned.  Below is a photo taken just before packing for return.

Below are several of the proud sponsors!

12 October 2010

Texas: The Eyes Are Upon You!

Last week, Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote a compelling story about the 2010 Texas gubernatorial race, linking it to potential Democratic State Mansion pickups in three states, including California and Florida.  I will add some credence to this in that last summer when I was in D.C. jockeying for some national attention and money for Texas, I got a nod from a savvy pol who said, "Texas, if not precisely in play, has become a state of interest".

Republicans can no longer expect a "wave through" with their side of the ballot being the default choice.  And this presents a major challenge to the sitting governor, Rick Perry, who would prefer to run a "front-porch" campaign in which he could ignore the Democratic Challenger Bill White.  This was his stated intent, but when the early polls came out showing White in position to blast past him, Perry immediately launched negative and attack ads.  Hardly the reaction of one "ignoring" his challenger.

Perry is a career politician who ascended to the office when Bush was elected president and who has run election twice on his own.  Despite his decade-long tenure in the office, Governor Perry has not achieved any lasting or memorable accomplishments.  To the contrary, his efforts to force vaccination of pre-teen girls with against STDs and launch a pet project which would have seen family homes, farms and ranches taken over to build a "Trans Texas Corridor" which would have enriched a Spanish company both came up short.

Both were bad ideas, that as time passed and Texans became more aware of the ramifications of both, pretty much died prior to birth!  Neither added any luster to a governor already reviled by working families, school teachers, and individuals turned off by his matinee idol hubris and arrogance.  His $10,000 dollar a month rental (at tax payer expense) of a mansion while the governor's mansion undergoes repairs won him no champions of fiscal responsibility.

Earlier, we endorsed Bill White as our choice in this coming election.  But, today our focus is on Perry and the reasons why the Democrats for the first time in years are poised for success.   The anti-incumbency mood coupled with the populist sentiment of "a pox on both their houses" both work to the advantage of the Democrats.  Texans are painfully aware of an 8.4 percent rate of unemployment, a budget shortfall that could approach $20-billion while Perry parrots old anti-Obama, anti-Washington rhetoric which has no relation to the state's problems.

By all accounts, Perry should loose this election, and it is becoming more-and-more obvious that Perry very well could loose!  Texas, The Eyes Of The Nation Are Upon You.

Read the full WaPo article here.

11 October 2010

Early Voting: Use It to Get Out the Vote!

Early Voting is Under Way in Fourteen States

Early voting is crucial for activists seeking to maximise the senior vote.  Aside from the obvious benefit of avoiding election day lines or "crunch", illness, or excuse or apathy, it gives the activist a chance to vote early and devote remaining time to action and getting out the vote or manning phones on election day.

Early voting begins in Texas on Monday, October 18, (First Day) with the last day being Friday, October 29.  The final day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 26.

According to USA Today, early voting, in which a voter may cast a ballot at an elections office, is already underway in 14 states. Early voting gets underway in another 17 states and in the District of Columbia over the next two weeks.

In all, 33 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of in-person early voting, while other states allow voters to file absentee ballots early, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

Vermont kicked the voting off on Sept. 20, followed by South Dakota on Sept. 21, Iowa and Wyoming on Sept. 23, Nebraska on Sept. 27, Ohio on September 28, Wisconsin on October 3, California and Indiana on Oct. 4, and Arizona on October 7. Rather than setting a date far in advance, some states began offering ballots when they became available. For the first time this year, Illinois voters are casting absentee ballots without having to explain why they are doing so; this is known as “no excuse” absentee voting. “I encourage Alliance members to take advantage of early voting, so that your ballot will count even if you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Early ballots accounted for 41.3% of primary ballots this year, up 2 percentage points from 2006. In all, up to 70 percent of voters now have some access to early voting under state laws that permit voters to cast ballots before Election Day for any reason - not just because they expect to be out of town on November 2. If you need additional information about casting your ballot, call your state or local board of elections.

For your state's information, go HERE! 

06 October 2010

60-Plus, Just Another Right Wing Front

Back in the day, the 50s to be precise, Pat Boone was a white-bread singer of moderate talent whose primary appeal was to young republicans and the parents of the kids hopping and bopping, and jamming, and necking and petting, to Elvis, Bill Haley, Jerry Lewis, and Little Richard.  He was a punk then, and so remains to this minute.  I'd break my collection of his 45s, if I'd ever bought tone--I didn't!

The thing about Boone then was that he "covered" a lot of black and true rock-and-roll singers, such as turning Fats Domino's smarmy, throbbing promise of sex, make-out version of Blue Berry Hill into a innocuously pukish ballad.  The thing about Boone now, other than his insane need to appear as a teenager to this day --right daddy-o?--is that in addition to claiming to be the founder of the Beverly Hills chapter of the so-called Tea Party, he fronts the insurance and drug industry funded 60-Plus organization in its attempt to roll back health care reform.

If Boone had gone to my high-school he would have been on the wedgie-a-day list, and locked in hall lockers, or tossed pantless into the girls showers at weekly intervals.  I'm tellin' you, he was a simpering no talent punk who managed to ride "mellow" to a fortune.  That, and his born-again personae got him to where he is now.

Why so much rancor aimed at a no talent has-been--who never really was?  Why?

Well, if pandering and pimping the Tea-Party is not sufficient, consider the 60-Plus organization.  Boone, as their paid shill and mouthpiece, has been heard to utter these outrageous words; "Barack Obama is a president without a country, water boarding America with socialistic health care and other liberal causes".  Beyond that, according to Jon Perr, writing in Crooks and Liars, Boone has called for the "metaphorical gassing" of "all manner of parasites, vermin, roaches, rats, worms and termites" in Obama's White House team.  This punk Boone made his fortune by "covering" black artists and now uses code words to describe the President and White House as resembling a stereotypical "project".  The connotation is clearly racist!

But, Boone is merely a stooge, a life size cutout to prop in front of gullible seniors who were conned or frightened into believing the drug oligarch's and insurance tsar's lies about death panels and loss of Medicare during the health care reform debate.  Now, the conning continues as the group targets pro-health care reform candidates in Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  These are all states with large senior populations and 60 Plus is flooding the airwaves with their lies and distortions once again in an attempt to frighten unwary seniors.

In past years, 60 Plus was the beneficiary of boucoups big bucks from PhRMa, the drug company's lobby group. Correspondingly, while claiming to be a "grassroots" organization, it receives absolutely no money from membership fees--such phony "grassroots' organizations are called AstroTurf by the informed.

When you stir all this in with the news yesterday posted by the LA Times that the drug and insurance companies are pouring money into Republican campaign coffers (3 times as much as given to Democrats) it is very clear that they are dead set on revision or roll back of our hard fought and narrowly won health care reform victory.

Pat Boone, who poses as a "Christian", seems not to care that if 60 Plus and the drug and insurance companies win, we will go back to allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to sick children, or older people with pre-existing conditions, or cancellation when the policy is really used.  Well, after all, a no-talent punk has to make a buck somehow and it's a cinch he isn't going to make it from record sales or movie residuals.

05 October 2010

We're Endorsing Bill White for Governor

It would be a laughable understatement if we were to say that this endorsement comes from our sense that it is time for a change.  The truth is, Rick Perry, over two terms, has done nothing to distinguish himself to the working people of Texas, seniors, and the middle-class.

His current campaign theme is: Open for Business!  Yeah, well we've known that about him from the "git go".  And, we also have taken note of how early in the campaign he went negative---usually the resort of politicians who cannot run on a substantive record.  A bit of advice, people who live in $10,000 a month rented, at taxpayer expense, glass mansions  really should not throw stones.  Nor should politicians who dole out $16-million in state money to companies whose investors are top donors.  Nor should politicians linked to rumors of impending divorce, infidelity, and putting to death the innocent.  Shootin' up a gol-derned coyote jest don't cut through all that!

All that aside, since it merely makes him the atypical Republican, there is still the nasty reality of what is going on during his watch:  The student growth of our public schools is among the top ten percent (6%) in the nation, but Texas is the only state in the nation to cut per student expenditures.  And, it shows, as our kids rank 49th  in verbal and 46th in math SAT scores.  Administrators have grown by 33%, and in-school staffing by only 16% and teachers by a mere 13%.

Texas is in a marked descent toward third world status where the rich get richer and the poor, middle-class, working families, and seniors get screwed.  Open for business?  Monkey business maybe, bad business certainly.  Texans pay some of the highest utility and home-owner insurance rates in the nation and lag behind the rest of the country in services to its poor, disabled and older citizens.  No more monkey business, it's time for a change.

Clearly, the issue must not be that be that Rick Perry is so bad, it has to be that Bill White is so much better.  And that, dear reader, is quite easily demonstrable.

As United States Deputy Secretary of Energy Bill White led a reform team that resulted in saving billions for American taxpayers.  As mayor of Houston, the 4th largest city in the nation, White restructured the city's debt allowing for the creation of new libraries and parks and improved public safety.  He balanced the city's budget at the same time he lowered tax rates and increased homestead exemptions for the city's disabled and older citizens.

His education initiatives will put Texas back on the path to education parity and affordable college educations.  As mayor, he and is wife, Andrea, initiated a drop-out intervention program that saw nearly 9,000 "at risk" youngsters complete their high-school education that otherwise would have dropped out.

Perry has taken Texas well past the point of mediocrity.  Let's change that and vote for Bill White for governor of Texas and begin the road back to preeminence.

04 October 2010

The Fight to Save Social Security Continues

Fiscal Commission Meets for the Fifth Time as NOW Confronts Alan Simpson

The President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, looking for ways to balance the federal budget, met for the fifth time on Wednesday, but hard decisions are not expected until after the November 2 elections. Social Security is one of several areas being considered by the panel for changes, and picketers outside the meeting demanded the commission keep its hands off the program.

A top target of protesters was Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator and now a co-chairman of the commission, who this summer described Social Security as "a milk cow with 310 million tits."

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has a new slogan: "Tits for an Ass," and NOW members arrived on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with 1,500 rubber baby bottle tops (nipples) and presented them to the Fiscal Commission as part of its campaign calling for the removal of Simpson. According to The Washington Post, NOW President Terry O'Neill told Simpson that she was giving him the nipples "in hopes that you'll have the decency to resign from the commission." When Simpson said that cutting Social Security had historically never happened, O'Neill responded, "Well let's hope that your efforts to make it happen now fail."

Members of Congress Hold Press Call to Announce, "Hands off Social Security"

Last Thursday, Alliance for Retired Americans President, Barbara J. Easterling, joined Senators Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), as well as Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), John Conyers (D-MI) and Dan Maffei (D-NY) and AFSCME International President Gerald McEntee, on a conference call with reporters.

Organized by the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, the call briefed members of the press on how the participants' efforts to protect Social Security against harmful benefit cuts are gaining momentum in Congress. Senators Sanders and Brown discussed the Sanders resolution, S. Res. 664, which opposes raising the retirement age, risky privatization schemes, or cutting Social Security benefits. This resolution now has 11 co-sponsors. The Giffords Resolution, a similar resolution in the House, is H. Res. 1670 and has 56 co-sponsors.

Reps. Grijalva, Conyers and Maffei also discussed the letter they are spearheading to President Obama against any form of Social Security benefit cuts, including raising the retirement age. The Grijalva-Conyers-Maffei letter has now been signed by over 100 of their colleagues in Congress. The current retirement age is 67, and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has raised the possibility of raising it to 70. "Thank you once again to our dedicated Alliance members, who have sent more than 2,300 letters to their House members urging them not to raise the retirement age," Ms. Easterling said on Thursday.

The House and Senate could face a proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the lame duck session, should it be recommended by the Fiscal Commission on Dec. 1.

28 September 2010

GOP Pledge :: A Piss Pot of Previously Failed Policies!

In large part, President Obama was elected as a repudiation of that dry-drunk sociopath George W. Bush and every lousy thing stood for by him and his minions of deep-forest hobgoblins, bridge trolls, mendicants, cut-purses, thieves, debauchees, and drunkards.  Americans had enough.  Now, the GOP, nostalgic for all that which got us here, have trotted out their failed policies of the past, stirring them into a festering piss pot they're calling a pledge.

Fortunately, most Americans, while dumbed-down and anesthetized by unrewarding, or,  no work, crushing debt, cheap watered down beer,  no way out, and diminishing dreams and hope; see through the pledge as nothing new and altogether the same as the so-called Contract with America, conjured up by that philandering fool, Newt Gingrich.

Here's some of what they are pledging to do on behalf their Wall Street, Big Oil, Insurance Tsars, and Drug Company Oligarch masters:

  • Cut Taxes for the wealthy, while the American middle-class disappears.
  • Snip away at the health care reform that is bringing relief to seniors, boomers, adult children, and those afflicted with preconditions or life-time chronic diseases.
  • Continue conditions guaranteeing windfall profits to stateless corporations during the the worst economic crises in America since the great depression.
  • Hand over Social Security and Medicare to Wall Street, Drug and Insurance companies.
  • Cut back or entirely eliminate regulations reigning in the excesses of credit card lenders, insurance companies, Wall Street bankers and financiers, and oil companies like BP and Exon.
  • Make rich the lobbyists, big corporations and special interests while driving up the deficit by trillions of dollars.

They will do all this without ever putting forth and program, proposal or policy to improve education, put America back to work, rebuild a decayed infrastructure that threatens to bring us down to third-world levels, or any plan to invest in key industries like clean energy and manufacturing.

If you're not registered to vote, do so today!.  Make certain you do vote....for a Democrat.  And volunteer to work with your Democratic precinct chair in getting out the vote on election day.  Otherwise, you're going to see mnore of the same..only much, much, much worse.

27 September 2010

Alliance for Retired Americans: GOP "Pledge" Leaves Seniors with Unanswered Questions

Last Thursday (9/23/10) Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans joined U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Nancy Altman of Social Security Works in a telephone press conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee.  Here are his prepared remarks:

"My name is Ed Coyle.  I am the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots advocacy organization with over 4 million members and 1500 local chapters.

The Pledge to America provides few specifics for voters concerned about Social Security and Medicare. Seniors need more than buzzwords and bromides to pay their bills, see a doctor, or fill a prescription.

Conspicuously absent from today’s plan are both aspiring-Speaker John Boehner’s pledge to increase the Social Security retirement age to 70, and also the “Roadmap” of the Budget Committee’s Paul Ryan which would let Wall Street run a privatized Social Security and end Medicare as we know it.

And speaking of the Young Guns, they have nothing to worry about.  For example, in 2037, when Social Security will still be making all payments in full even if nothing is done, today’s Young Guns will be anything but young.  Paul Ryan will be 67, Kevin McCarthy will be 72, and Eric Cantor will be 74.  By the way, John Boehner will be 89… and there will still be no crisis in Social Security.

Voters need to move beyond today’s p.r. stunt and press their local GOP candidates for greater detail on Social Security: 

  • Do they support raising the retirement age? 
  • Would they cut benefits? 
  • Would they privatize Social Security and tie it to the uncertainty and greed on Wall Street?

Today’s call to ‘repeal and replace’ the new health law leaves seniors wondering:

  • What would happen to closing Medicare’s “doughnut hole” coverage gap? 
  • Would the Republicans stop payment on the over 1 million rebate checks that help seniors better afford their prescriptions drugs? 
  • Are they opposed to the new law’s free tests and screenings for life-threatening diseases? 
  • Would they repeal new long-term care insurance for middle-class families? 
  • How would they replace the new financial assistance that helps early retirees with health coverage?

Many seniors are struggling to get by, and workers of all ages are wondering when, if ever, they will get to retire. Current and future retirees have every right to demand the whole truth out of candidates for office this year.

I am confident that over the next six weeks – as voters see through all this hype and show business – they will learn the truth about the Pledge to America and they will see quite clearly which candidates are on their side and which ones are not.