Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One way for us just to get along with each other a bit better:

I hope nobody is offended by the language here. (Ha! I don't really think it could be expressed any other way as effectively....)


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Sojourners Quote of the Week

This is heartbreaking, really:

"I don't think of it as stealing. These things were planted by a person who was going to harvest them. That person no longer has the ability to. It's not like the bank people who sit in their offices are going to come out here and pick figs."

-- Kelly Callahan, Atlanta, on why she forages for fruits and vegetables in the yards of her neighborhood’s vacant properties (Source: New York Times)


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The President's plan for Social Security

I want to call your attention to a short piece entitled "Why is President Obama so Anxious to Cut Social Security?" by Dean Baker. Here's a little bit of what it says:

For an average retiree who can expect to get benefits for 20 years, President Obama’s plan would cut their lifetime Social Security benefits by roughly 3 percent. By comparison, his much feared tax increases on the rich would reduce the after-tax income of someone earning $300,000 a year by just 0.5 percent. In this case, a beneficiary who will be mostly dependent on their Social Security income in retirement will take about six times as large a hit relative to their income under President Obama’s plan to cut to Social Security than a couple earning $300,000 would from his plan to raise their taxes.
The determination to cut Social Security is especially strange given the finances of the program. Under the law, Social Security is financed by the designated Social Security tax. It does not contribute to the deficit, since the law prohibits payments from being made if there is not money in the Social Security trust fund. That means that if the trust fund were drained, rather than contributing to the deficit, full benefits would not be paid.

Mr. Baker does not answer the question in his title. The reason, sadly, remains a mystery.

How sensible; how fair; how obvious:

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's happening regarding recent disability claims

This is truly horrible. What is wrong with our nation that we don't have the political will to do something about the desperation Mr. Astrue speaks of here?

It's primarily economic desperation — people on the margins who ... have no other place to go, and they take a shot at disability.

-- Michael Astrue, Social Security commissioner, as laid-off workers and aging baby boomers flood Social Security's disability program with benefit claims, pushing the financially strapped system toward insolvency

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kicking the elderly to the curb

This just makes me sick - especially since I live in Oklahoma:

I also find it STUNNING that Coburn got applause for those remarks.

Also, you know what? Coburn was elected to the Senate in 2004. I don't remember him saying that Medicare and Social Security were unconstitutional while Bush was president. Do you think he's doing this now because Obama has turned out to be such a pushover?

I don't know. I just think it's odd that Republicans are jumping on this stuff now.

An old but still pertinent cartoon:

You'd think the Secretary of Education would know better....

Oh, dear:

Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college. I feel very, very badly for the children there.

-- Arnie Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary, speaking about problems in the Texas public school system

And I feel bad for the United States that its Secretary of Education makes errors in grammar such as the one above. (To "feel badly" is to have one's sense of touch be impaired. What is needed in the quotation above is a predicate adjective - not an adverb.)

Okay, okay. Call me a grammar nazi. I don't care.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saddest paragraph I've read in a long time

This one:

A despair grips America today, a cold fear that our best days are behind us, that we are adrift and powerless. Yes, the Republicans are to blame. But so is a president who treats core American values as bargaining chips, who won’t fight for anything, who refuses to lead. It turns out hope does matter.

It's from a Newsweek article entitled "Oval Office Appeaser" by William Broyles. It's a short piece and one that is powerfully written. I do urge you to go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The phone hacking scandal

Truly appalling:

This practice was widely discussed in daily editorial conferences.

-- Clive Goodman, former royal correspondent for News of the World, in a letter written in 2007, but published August 16, claiming that phone hacking was widely known throughout the News International organization

Well, at least the more complete truth is starting to come out.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adapting to change

This is truly worth thinking about:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

-- Charles Darwin

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Perhaps we'd better think about this:

A presidential insight

Is he just now realizing this?

There are some folks in Congress who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.

-- Barack Obama, U.S. President, addressing auto-industry workers at a battery facility in Michigan on Thursday, Aug. 11

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A very brave young man

Now this is inspiring:

In Indiana in 2009, the senior class at a public school was asked to vote on whether to have a prayer as part of their graduation ceremony. A senior named Eric Workman, knowing full well that school-sponsored prayer is illegal even if a majority votes for it, filed a lawsuit and won an injunction against the prayer. The school administration responded by announcing it wouldn't review graduation speeches in advance, clearly hoping that some student would use the opportunity to say the same prayer -- except that the class valedictorian was Eric Workman, and he used his graduation speech to explain why the school's actions were unconstitutional and to explain the importance of the First Amendment.

I found it here.

Do also click on Eric Workman's name to learn more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London's burning

Here's the headline:

British Riots: Elites "Shocked" The Poor Are Rising Up Against Brutal Austerity Measures

And I want you to see this small passage:

The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong.

This is so well put. And so true. The privileged ones throughout the world need to pay attention to the point made in this paragraph I have quoted. We ignore this reality to our peril.


Yes, this is really the real cover:

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

So, so true


Give the church a place in the Constitution, let her touch once more the sword of power, and the priceless fruit of all ages will turn to ashes on the lips of men.

-- Robert G. Ingersoll

We ought to be terrified by the thought losing our commitment to separation of church and state.

Today's CNN QuickVote

Well, isn't this interesting?

Does your congressional representative deserve re-election?



Monday, August 08, 2011

A Time Magazine quote of the day

So bring them home, Mr. President:

Their death is a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifice made by the men and women of our military and their families.

-- President Obama, on the 30 Americans who died in Afghanistan on Saturday after insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter

Why don't we learn from history? If neither the British nor the Soviet Union were able to prevail in Afghanistan, what makes us think we will be successful? It's insane.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A serious question before us

Here it is:

What Happened to Obama?

It's by Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University and the author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.

Gosh, I'm truly not exaggerating when I say this article is profoundly insightful in answering the question posed by the title. Finally, I've found something that's helping me make sense of it all.

Here's just a small bit:

The president is fond of referring to “the arc of history,” paraphrasing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But with his deep-seated aversion to conflict and his profound failure to understand bully dynamics — in which conciliation is always the wrong course of action, because bullies perceive it as weakness and just punch harder the next time — he has broken that arc and has likely bent it backward for at least a generation.

When Dr. King spoke of the great arc bending toward justice, he did not mean that we should wait for it to bend. He exhorted others to put their full weight behind it, and he gave his life speaking with a voice that cut through the blistering force of water cannons and the gnashing teeth of police dogs. He preached the gospel of nonviolence, but he knew that whether a bully hid behind a club or a poll tax, the only effective response was to face the bully down, and to make the bully show his true and repugnant face in public.

In contrast, when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it.

I do encourage you to click through and read the entire piece. It's a bit long so make sure you have a few minutes. Worth every word, however.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Thursday, August 04, 2011

More on austerity

Here's the headline:

The Beast Is Starved: Welcome to the Next Great Depression

And here are a few snippets:

Republicans offered popular tax cuts so that they could later cut popular government programs “as a necessity.” Oh, we’d love to continue providing low cost, effective medical care under Medicare, but you see, the country just can’t afford it …
So, after starting with a surplus in 2000, Republicans used two wars, two rounds of tax cuts, and a giant giveaway to big Pharma, to get the country racking up debt like a drunken sailor.
Never mind that cutting Social Security to balance the budget is like attacking the mailman because your car doesn’t work. It has nothing to do with the budget – but again, that’s a mere fact. When you’re drowning the beast, facts don’t matter.
News flash for all the debt mongers, Tea Partiers and other assorted ignoramuses. You can’t run a consumer-based economy when the vast majority of consumers don’t have enough money to buy anything.

Hard to believe our country is letting all this happen. Hard to believe.

Realities we need to face

So here's the headline:

US of Austerity: What $570 Billion Cuts Will Do to Our Water, Air, the Jobless, Children, the Elderly, and the Poor

And here's just one bit:

Ben Schreiber, a tax analyst with Friends of the Earth, a national environmental advocacy group, says the Obama-GOP debt ceiling deal could also drive a stake through the heart of investments in wind, solar, and other clean-energy technologies. "The clean-energy revolution becomes a casualty of these cuts," Schreiber says. He adds that the Environmental Protection Agency also sends money to the states for their own environmental protection efforts, which could suffer after such a drastic cutback in domestic spending. At the same time, he says, corporate subsidies for oil and gas companies, worth an estimated $30 billion over ten years, are untouched in the latest debt ceiling proposal. "Polluters are getting off scot-free," he says. "We're basically turning the environment over to the industry."

You know, I just don't know what to say. Go read the rest of the article for yourself.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Jim Wallis on "the deal"

Powerful words:

The debate we have just witnessed has shown Washington, D.C. not just to be broken, but corrupt. The American people are disgusted watching politicians play political chicken with the nation's economy and future. In such a bitter and unprincipled atmosphere, whoever has the political clout to enforce their self-interest and retain their privileges wins the battles. But there are two casualties in such political warfare: the common good and the most vulnerable.

You can read the rest of the article right here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Quote of the day

I respect this point of view:

Obama's starting point was a demand for a "clean," unencumbered bill to raise the ceiling; House Speaker John Boehner said no. What would have happened if Obama refused to budge? We don't know because that's not his style. It would be nice, someday, to find out.

- Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post, 8/1/2011


Monday, August 01, 2011

Oh, what a headline

Right here:

If the Republic Had Not Died A Long Time Ago, This Would Indeed Be the Death of the Republic

It's a very short article by Chris Floyd, whom I've long admired.

Do click on through and take a look.