Thursday, August 30, 2012

RetireSafe -- Not as Safe as It Sounds

When I got the email from Tim Scott last week declaring he was going to save us all from letting Obama throw us off a cliff or some such nonsense, I also saw that he had just received the 2012 Standing Up for Seniors Award.  He modestly made the announcement at the end of his email, after I was already afraid I was going to be pushed off a cliff.

The group giving him this award is called "RetireSafe", which sounds suspiciously like all those Kochian and Rovian Superpacs with warm and fuzzy names masking their evil intentions.  So I looked it up, and sure enough, these dudes are calling themselves a "grassroots organization".  Not like any grass I've ever grown on my lawn.

This is a whitebread, Romney-esque bunch, who last year gave the award to Tea Party Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona.

Harder to get information on the guys (of course they are guys) who sow these grass roots, but here is the scoop from TPM Muckraker at Talking Points Memo.  So now it makes sense.  This group awarded Scott for his work for big Pharma and other health related corporate interests, who make big bucks from -- of course -- Medicare and seniors.  It is also just another group of rich guys who are scamming seniors by giving fake awards to those legislators who live in their pockets.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Irony Abounds

Where to start?

First of all, immediately after announcing Paul Ryan as his running mate, both Mitt and his new sidekick proceeded to blast President Obama for cutting Medicare.  Welcome to Through the Looking Glass, GOP style.

If you recall way back a few months ago, or maybe it was years ago...

Anyway, for as long as I can recall, the republican party has been bashing President Obama for single-handedly increasing the debt.  According to the GOP, we poor folk, those who have lost our jobs, or our health, or our homes, have been living high off the hog here in the Democrats' U.S.A.  Entitlements, entitlements, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a republican on a soap-box talking about entitlements.

Of course, they didn't mean corporate entitlements.  The big corporations -- Wall Street banks, ExxonMobil, big pharma, big agribusiness -- they need us to keep feeding them.  The fatter they get, the hungrier.  After all, we are told, they are the job creators.

But the rest of us poor slobs are just sapping the strength of this great land.

Now the way I remember it, peacemaker Obama agreed to begin to cut the waste out of Medicare, if only the republicans in Congress would agree to just a teensy-weensy tax increase for the wealthy.  Which, of course, left us with Medicare cuts and no increase in taxes.

Those Medicare cuts that Paul Ryan wants you to believe will kill his grandmother are actually to a large extent cuts to the private insurance companies -- Medicare Advantage -- that supplements regular Medicare benefits.  Another large piece of the savings is through lower reimbursement rates to hospitals that see more of the uninsured, which will be less necessary under Obamacare and the individual mandate.

Not exactly killing grandma, is it?

But then, if you can stand to listen further, Ryan (and Mitt) will tell you that you shouldn't worry, you old people.  Because apparently they are only going to screw people under 55.

Okay, so that's Part One of 2012 Madness.

Then there is the unveiling of David Koch.  You know, the gazillionaire that owns Mitt Romney, and unknown other large pieces of the country.  Apparently, it is time for Koch to come out from behind the curtain, especially since we all had caught on to the fact that it was him running things anyway.

Of course, if you have gotten caught red-handed, the smart thing to do is act like you've planned it that way.  So David Koch is actually going to be an official delegate to the Convention.  Even more special, he will be honored at a "Salute to Entrepreneurs," and we can all get tickets.  Well, actually, we can all get on the wait list.  You might be surprised to know that this event, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, is actually funded by the Koch Brothers.  Well, maybe you won't be surprised.

And definitely not last, but all the irony-processing center in my brain can handle at one sitting, is the cornerstone of the convention.  No, I know you're thinking the anti-abortion plank, but that's the cornerstone behind the cornerstone.  The centerpiece of the convention, which is being "unveiled" today, is the "National Debt Clock".

Don't laugh.  It's true.

After creating laws that would chase down teens and women  trying to get birth control or abortions while shutting down the most cost-effective health care programs available to women...

After refusing to even consider the most modest tax hike for the wealthiest Americans...

After working exhaustively to kill Obamacare despite Congressional Budget Office and other expert opinions that savings will outweigh costs...

...these idiots are going to show us just how much debt we are accruing as they speak.

No, too much irony for me.  Need some air.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Still Crazy After All These Years

Amazing that on the same day that the Augusta National Golf Club announced that it has decided to welcome in the 21st century (12 years later) by accepting women into their private club, another member of the U.S. House of Representatives has reminded us that we are currently reliving the 50's.

Todd Akin of Missouri is currently challenging Claire McCaskill for her Senate seat.  He announced yesterday that he had been assured by an actual doctor that actual "legitimate rape" rarely occurs, because if a woman doesn't really want the sex, her body will reject the pregnancy.

Wow, and wow.

This would be comic if it didn't so completely represent the wild-eyed, right-wing republican mid-20th century, Mad Men mentality of a woman's place.  While fellow GOP reacted with horror, that horror has more to do with, "I can't believe he just said that" than "I can't believe he really believes that."

We have been assaulted by a sanctimonious GOP for too many years to doubt for one minute that Akin does not represent his fellow right-wingers.  Forcing a woman to proceed with a pregnancy in situations of rape has long been on the republican agenda.

But allow me to get personal here.  We all know a woman who has been raped.  We may not be aware of it, because for most rape victims, the rape is accompanied by shame, and so the crime is kept secret.  Teenagers afraid of rejection, adult women afraid they will lose their job, spouses trying to keep peace in the home by giving in, children, for God's sake, who are helpless in the face of this evil.

And instead of the help and support they deserve, they have been receiving sanctimonious false-Christian nonsense from the people we have elected to keep us safe and free.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's.  If you were a girl or woman, and you were assaulted sexually, it was a given that:  your skirt was too high or your hair was too long, you were somewhere you weren't supposed to be or you were out when you should have been home.

Women and girls get raped.  They don't deserve it.  They have a right to be protected from the consequences of that attack.  They deserve our help and support, so that they do not feel responsible for the attack.

So let's hope that, even with all the republican walk-back on Akin's idiotic comments, we women stop supporting those who believe we are irrelevant instruments in a pregnancy resulting from a rape.

And congratulations Augusta National.  Maybe someday the US Congress will join you in the 21st Century.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thank You

I was tickled to note, on leaving the Wadmalaw Island Recycling Center today, that someone had removed the anti-Obama sign.

Just want to say thank you to the Concerned Citizen, and I'll be looking for it on eBay.

Friday, August 17, 2012

When Tim Scott's Freedom Is Not Our Freedom

The U. S. House Representative for SC District 1, who is not and never has been my representative, although I live in that district, has a peculiar view of freedom.

For example, he believes that women should not have the freedom to access contraceptive care, but that employees should have the freedom to not provide this coverage when the law requires it.

He calls it "conscience."

I call it bullshit.

When a religious institution feels comfortable taking my tax dollars, which I do not have the freedom to withhold from said groups, regardless of my conscience, the very least obligation they should have is to follow the law.  If their conscience causes angst, they can refuse the federal dollars.  They can also stop pretending they should be tax-exempt.

Tim Scott passionately professes his belief in "life."  That, too, is bullshit.  Jesus, neither Scott's nor anyone else's, would never condone automatic weapons (or war, for that matter).  When innocents are getting gunned down in a classroom or a movie theater, Scott should have more important things on his "conscience" than whether or not a woman should be allowed free contraceptives.

This hypocrisy would puzzle me more if it didn't so much follow the money.  The National Rifle Association has incredible power in this country, and incredibly deep pockets.  So it is no surprise that when Scott "prays" on issues, gun control provokes as resounding a "no" from God as does contraception.

No disrespect to God, however.  Because when Tim Scott prays, he may think he is hearing God's voice, but in fact he is hearing answers that are easy on his ears.  The voice he actually hears, I believe, is that of Jim DeMint.

I have yet to hear of a vote cast by Tim Scott that he has not only agonized over, but then voted against what his hero in the Tea Party has dictated.

And so freedom, for Tim Scott, is the freedom to hear whatever voices he chooses to hear, and to vote "for life" when it is convenient, and anti-life when the NRA and Jim DeMint tell him to.

Shame on you, Tim Scott.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

No Smiling Faces Here

Wadmalaw Island, where I live, does not have public water.  We do not have a grocery store or gas station.  What we do have, that everyone frequents, is a Charleston County Recycling Center.  With no town pick-up, residents pretty much all make a trip to the dump (or as a neighbor refers to it, "Wadmalaw Mall") at least once a week.

So two years ago, I was pretty steamed to see, as I was exiting the recycling center, a campaign sign for Tim Scott front and center on the opposite side of the street.  At one point during the campaign, the sign disappeared, but lo! by the time I got there again there was another one.

So it was with a bit of ire that two weeks ago, as I left the recycling center, I saw:

Apparently, it is never too early to sling mud around here.  The meanness knows no bounds.  And it is a clever sign, done by someone with talent.  I wonder what other captive audiences he has found.

It amazes me that there is so little fight on the other (my) side.  We have been beaten.

I was told that, in Dorchester County in a recent election year, an illegal sign was posted, and ignored when reported to law enforcement, but when someone pulled it out, she was arrested in minutes.

Takes the wind out of a person's sails, when there is one side in charge, and they are mean and angry.

Anyway, the law in Charleston County is that an election sign can stay up for no longer than 90 days.  So if y'all want to try to monitor this nonsense and fight back, I'm with you.  If I were a few years younger, I might be tempted to climb that tree myself.  Such a piece of art will someday get a good price on eBay.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Carol for House 115

She did it!

When the South Carolina Election Commission rejected Carol Tempel and others who were running for office in 2012, Carol decided not to fight the Commission's decision.  Instead, she opted to run as a "petition candidate".

I had my doubts.  My own preference has always been to curse the dark rather than go look for a candle.  But Carol tirelessly sought and collected signatures, and yesterday announced that she has been certified to run for South Carolina House 115 in November.

Isn't this exactly the kind of person we need working for us in Columbia?

Carol doesn't just know how to surmount obstacles, though. She knows the issues.  As an educator, she knows why our tired education system doesn't work.  She understands that the path to jobs is not to sell out to big corporate interests, but to tax wisely, to spend our money on improving our schools, paying our teachers a living wage, investing in our children instead of the wealthy business interests that are being all-too-well represented by her opponent.

Carol knows that knowledge is power.  Education leads to hope -- less teen pregnancy, less crime, better jobs, healthier families.

And Carol has proven that she is determined to fight for South Carolinians.

Welcome aboard, Carol!  We're glad it's official!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Air Disaster

If you've traveled by air within the past year, and gotten where you were going on time, congratulations.  The likelihood of that happening is getting less likely by the day. And the greater the number of delays, the less likely you are to get an explanation for why your life has just been thrown out of whack.  So let me just jump to a few conclusions....

Flights diverted to "nearby" airports during inclement weather -- Planes are not being gassed up to capacity anymore, in order to save some bucks flying with a lighter gas tank.  Yes, I believe that back in the day we saw far fewer instances of planes having to land at another airport and wait out a storm -- or wait in line to refuel.  Don't get me wrong; I am not advocating flying around in circles on fumes waiting for the storm to pass.  Just start off with a full tank, the way I do when I'm making a long trip.

Cancelled flights -- Don't have enough passengers to make a big enough profit?  Just cancel the whole thing, and squeeze people in elsewhere.  These days, you can get passengers to wait for hours for a flight anyway; why not just put them on a later half-full flight?

The other neat reason for cancelling a flight is that the aircraft is having mechanical problems.  Maybe the problems were noted as the plane arrived on a wing and a prayer, or it may be that the plane just didn't pass the pre-flight inspection.  Our friends on the right-wing side of the political aisle (no pun intended) might think that the problem is too many regulations.  Myself, I'd prefer the airlines just keep their planes in top condition.  Is that too much to expect from companies that take hundreds of dollars for a couple-hour use of a seat in the air?

Waiting for take-off -- Remember it wasn't so long ago when the media reported with horror people being forced to remain in an airplane for hours waiting to take off?  Well, now it's just business as usual.  Sitting on a runway for over an hour?  Consider yourself lucky if every 15 minutes or so the pilot gets on the intercom and tells you what number you are in line.

Back in the day when people were paid what they were worth to do such an incredibly important job as fly planes, or manage flights, or keep airplanes in top condition, we could expect the planes to run on time.  But here in 2012, it's okay for the CEO to whine about profits, and then, in the name of same, cut costs to the edge of disaster.  In the case of big containers of people many thousands of feet in the air, the edge of disaster is a very real and frightening consideration. So it is regulations, of all things, that prevent planes daily crashing.  But they don't make the planes safe, they just keep the ones that are not safe on the ground.  And regulations don't make airports run efficiently; in fact, by preventing dangerous planes from taking off, regulations increase delays.  Or at least provide a good excuse for the airline industry when explaining why hundreds of people can no longer plan on starting a vacation, attending a conference, or even making a connecting flight (that the airlines scheduled).  

What to do about this?  I believe the solution is to let the federal government take over the airlines.  No more for-profit.  No more boards to keep happy with inflated stock prices.  And then vote people in that will fund the airlines, and the necessary employees.  Basically, exactly what they need to do with Amtrak.  Which, by the way, now has an on-time record that beats the airlines.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tax Exempt No More?

I imagine that rather than continuing to try to fight the battle over denying the existence of sexual abuse by priests, the Catholic Church has decided to turn its -- and our -- attention to women.  While they continue to keep nuns under their thumbs, denying them the same status as priests, Catholic women at large tend to be philosophical about whether it really is God telling the Pope what to do about birth control and abortion.  It may simply be that the Pope and bishops just have issues with women that are interfering with messages from the Almighty.

Sadly, our right-wing politicians are all too happy to yield to the authority of this bunch of guys known as the Catholic Bishops, being guys themselves, mostly (There are always a couple of women in the crowd that are going to "stand by their man", and that is definitely true in the republican party.).

It started most notably when a bunch of guys was asked to testify on Capitol Hill in February as to whether Obamacare is hurting religious freedom by offering cost-free birth control to women.  Catholics, scorned fifty years ago in politics, were proudly represented by a member of the Catholic Bishops, who, in his wisdom, testified that, by allowing women reproductive freedom, he was being denied religious freedom.  Not in so many words.

Legitimatized by Congressional right wing-nuts, the Catholic Church has flaunted their wealth and power with increasingly grandiose political contributions, as with the anti-same-sex marriage support in North Carolina in May.  The Mormon Church was successful in their anti-gay effort in California -- twice -- although the courts continue to find the ban unconstitutional.  And it is no longer risky to preach an anti-left-wing get out the vote message at the pulpit.

So, as the wealthy Christian (and I use that term loosely) denominations step up to throw money into the political fray as they whine about losing their freedom, the theatrics can only get more incredible, the message ever more dramatic.



Only a clip from Monty Python could improve on this message, absurdity-wise:


On the other hand, I would have a difficult time finding a comparable message, horror-wise.  I can only hope that whoever paid the production company for Test of Fire: Election 2012 is planning on a full-feature extravaganza for Halloween.

And I would think that the reason the sponsors of that ghastly video are anonymous is that they realize that the Church that paid for this message no longer qualifies as tax-exempt.