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.