Thursday, September 29, 2011

There Goes Another Government Service

Who loses when the right wing finally gets its way and kills the United States Postal Service?

They do manage to make it sound petty that we expect to get Saturday delivery.  And just plain out-of-touch when most of us send letters by email these days.

Let Jon Stewart add a little perspective here:

This would be the time, if we were a nation seeking to do better rather than cheaper, when neighborhood post offices would be allowed to provide a drop-off/pick-up point for private delivery services for a fee, rather than private companies lobbying to kill public mail service in order to lose the competition.

Because government does do it better, and cheaper.  Government provides decent jobs that provide a service that will never, ever be offered by private industry.

USPS provides the same service to the poor and those living in rural areas that it gives to those in the cities and suburbs.  Despite its regular, and it pains me to say it, not unreasonable cost increases, it continues to provide more for less than private companies.

And I have to say that both Jon Stewart and Claire McCaskill miss the point:  this government service still provides a lifeline to those of us without internet, and there are far too many of us out here.  It is not a matter of making the postal service profitable, any more than a public option for health care should be profitable.  It is a service that is necessary and affordable because there is no profit motive.  And we need to be very aware of how out-of-touch most of us are regarding the many, many people who continue to live for, and even because of, their mail delivery. 

And what will happen when our republican Congress does kill the postal service?  Private service will become even more expensive, and will provide less.

This is the same logic, in reverse, that applies to health care. If ObamaCare included a public option, private companies would have been forced to compete with more options and lower costs. Which is why the insurance industry fought like rabid dogs against even the mildest form of a public option.  And why they continue to fight with dollars and bought politicians to kill ObamaCare, and for that matter, Medicare.

I wonder if we will fight back hard enough as the right wing politicians, in the pocket of the corporations, continue to dismantle our government.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nobody Got Rich on Their Own

I was puttering in my kitchen and listening to somebody's MSNBC show, and I heard this voice, that I did not recognize, explaining why the wealthy should be contributing more.

"Who the hell is that?" I said (to my cat), and ran to look at the TV.  Needless to say, it is Elizabeth Warren:

I have not heard anyone, not Bernie Sanders, not Barack Obama, tell this as well as did Elizabeth Warren.

I believe that Warren is the person that we in South Carolina need to turn to, because she is the one with the right answers, and she is unafraid to tell it, pointblank, the way it is.

Not only do we here in South Carolina need to throw our full support behind Warren.  We need to bring her message to the 2012 South Carolina race.

We need to find gutsy, outspoken candidates for the House of Representatives, and for state offices, and we need them to ally with and echo Warren's message.

Democrats now more than ever need to reach across states' lines and gain strength from each other:  from the name recognition, from the financial strength, from the messages of people like Elizabeth Warren.  This is how we will take our state back.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

South Carolina Wages Church v. State Battle Once Again

In the small town of Jefferson, South Carolina, Larry Stinson, the principal of New Heights Middle School decided he no longer wanted to be a hypocrite.  So, instead, he broke the law.  He invited Christian rapper B-SHOC to perform, rather, bring to Jesus, 324 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.

Pastor David Sanders of Bridging the Gaps Ministries trained event volunteers by advising them to "have prayer with" the students.  His mission is to "save" people, and his website talks more specifically about its origin in taking the gay out of people.

There have been some complaints since this September 1 event, but not so much as to prohibit this principal on a mission from scheduling a prayer event on September 28, and posting it on the school website and Facebook page.

The ACLU has also been contacted regarding New Heights Middle School and its principal's flagrant breaking of the laws regarding separation of church and state.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Another Great Idea that Will Never Happen

I just read an email about my hero Bernie Sanders "new" idea about raising the cap on the payroll tax in order to fund social security.  Here are the usual reasons that this will never fly:

We don't tax the rich in this country, because it is unfair to them.  It is unfair to them because they are the people that make this country great.  They are the job creators, the investors, the innovators.  We, on the other hand, are the folks who ride on their coattails, and we should be grateful for it.

The people who keep getting elected are the ones who are trying to kill the government.  They have been doing it, one program at a time, and if they can't strangle social security this year, they'll try again next year.  And they have the means, and the moral compass of a squid, so they surely will keep trying.

No matter how much Democrats are giving lip service to saving social security, they are mostly in the pockets of the wealthy and nearly as deeply as the republicans.  If they were as convinced about the need for the haves to pay more to raise the rafts of the ever-sinking middle class, they would be shouting as loudly, and being heard as clearly as the Tea Party.  Regardless of the media's fondness for highlighting the crazies.

And then there is the mainstream media.  The media who reports on the screamers, but fails to point out the disinformation that they spread.  We will no more hear on NBC than we will on FOX the facts about social security; if they report on Bernie Sanders' plan to raise the cap on the payroll tax, it is only so they can quote some republican patsy whining about "class warfare" and how we are trying to stifle the "job creators".

Sorry, Bernie, I wish I could be more optimistic.  And I wish we had a country where your ideas could truly be heard without being twisted, so the voters might have a shot at electing more like you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Elizabeth Warren

I learned yesterday that Elizabeth Warren has announced her candidacy for the Massachusetts US Senate seat.  That would be a proud moment for the state, after the guy in the truck convinced the voters that he was like them because he drove a truck.

Unlike Martha Coakley, Warren is not planning on taking much vacation time -- not that we won't hear about any occasional days off she does take.  She seems to understand how low her opponents will go, and she certainly knows how high the stakes are for them.

A risk for her is that she has seen the ugly in government; she has seen Obama hedge his bets rather than come out tough and determined to do what's right.  She knows Scott Brown has the full support of Wall Street because if she wins this race, Wall Street will look a lot less like Easy Street.

Here in South Carolina, we have a lot at stake in whether Warren gets elected.  Our sleazy right-to-work cheap, freedom for the wealthy, amoralistic moralists will be front and center of this battle, because Elizabeth Warren will fight against those pols who believe states' rights means the right to gut their state.

So they will attack her with all the irrelevant, highly-charged attack words they know, and I've already heard (ho-hum) "elitist"; I'm sure "socialist" has been thrown out there.

And she's been there already, and she's a fighter.

I plan on getting involved in this one, and I hope we all help fight the disinformation war that is going to be going on against Elizabeth Warren.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Privatizing the U.S.

When I hear our president speak about helping business do its work, I get chills.  When he refers to "small business" incentives, I wonder if he is talking about a mom-and-pop, or about a subsidiary of Blackwater – I mean Xe.

If you haven't read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine:  The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, run to your library, that is, if you still have a library, and check it out.  It's approaching Halloween season, and there is no better time for this scary read.

We have been lured and duped by the wealthy and powerful into hating the government for its incompetence and waste.  If we stopped to think at all about this, we would see just how absurd are both the premise and the argument.

The great waste and inefficiency of our federal government is due, not to federal workers and federal programs, but to the private industries, their lawyers and lobbyists, with which our government's representatives shares its bed.  And its dollars.

The secret to the success of the raping of this country is in scaring people too busy, undereducated, gullible and apathetic to understand that they are being duped.

They say things like, "It is regulation that is killing business", "Raising minimum wage will strangle the free market", "People need to be free of unions so that they can earn a living."


But people who will never make a living wage without union or government intervention scream about those unionized workers who do, rage at the waste caused by the regulators (that try to keep the mercury out of our food and pharmaceuticals from killing us), and worry themselves about the minimum wage worker who is preventing them from getting that raise.


But it works.  On MSNBC, during the recent republican debate, I saw an ad, featuring a young, handsome, quite sane looking and sounding individual talking calmly about illegal aliens, and ending in the punchline that we need to do something to stop LEGAL immigrants NOW.

And during that republican debate on MSNBC for gods' sake, where were the ads with the progressive messages?

I know: our side doesn't have the money and the incentive to fight as hard and as long.

So read The Shock Doctrine.  At least be educated as to the extent of this fight.  It didn't start with Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, and people like Barack Obama, in the name of compromise, are furthering the cause of disaster capitalism every time they speak of government aiding business rather than helping people.  And we need to understand it in order to stop it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Are the Poor?

You have to admit, we Americans hide our poor well.  That, plus the fact that when you're tired, cold and hungry you just don't make it a priority to write to your congressional representative, much less get out and vote, making the ever-increasing number of poor in this country quite unheard from, and even less talked about.

The right-wing-nut Heritage Foundation, stranger to empathy that it is, published on July 19th, an article that smugly asserts that the poor in this country are far better off than most third world countries.  Thankfully, when FOX "News" leaped on this report, Colbert was not far behind.

In fact, if you search the web for "poor America refrigerator" you will find an abundance of appalled responses to the Heritage nonsense.  In July and August.  Here we are in September and I am afraid that all we are left with is Tea Partiers and other assorted right-wing-nuts that now know for a fact that poor people in America are living high.

And, if you look closely at that search -- wait!  Robert Rector, the Heritage Foundation dude that wrote that article, actually rewrote it from an article he wrote in 2007.  He did make some crucial changes, though.

In 2007, in his chart showing just how much stuff the poor really own, he listed homes first (42.6%).  In a clever marketing-type strategy, in his reworked 2011 chart, he drops home ownership entirely; hmm, could that be because a whole lot more "poor" don't own homes anymore.  No, that's not it,  because he's using the exact same data from 2005.  Must  be because that figure of 99.9% that own a refrigerator is far more impressive.  Like, all poor people own refrigerators!

As a matter of fact, 99.9 is such an impressive number, that he changed it from the 2007 article, using the same data, from 99.2.  Not to be picky.  Because Rector is so good at slinging charts and poll numbers around that the whole thing gave me a headache.

Bottom line, though, is that the Heritage Foundation is claiming that most Americans should not be considered poor if they own a refrigerator.  And they have been at it for years.

Deja vu all over again, if you are old enough to recall Ronald Reagan's presidency-winning nonsense about the black welfare queen.

Or if Rector reheats this data and serves it up again in a couple more years.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sophie's Choice

Eric Cantor's generous offer to provide needed FEMA Disaster Relief funding amounts to a "Sophie's choice":  if you want this child to live, you must agree to kill this one.  The budget cuts that this man is coldly offering to trade off for emergency relief for those left homeless, cut off, lacking communication or transportation, jobless, are those that help the poor and the elderly, educate our children, keep our streets safe.

Not to mix holocaust metaphors, but Cantor puts me in mind of the Nazi dentist in Marathon Man.  Cantor only gets to keep the diamonds if he can take away our Social Security.