Category Archives: the nation

In so many ways . . .

. . . we are really two different countries and the similarities to Civil War era America abound.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

And there’s this too  – the ten poorest States. I got it from a 2011 story at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze where commenters were not surprised, reasoning that that’s what Obama had done to us in just 20 months. The man worked fast!

  1. Mississippi
  2. Arkansas
  3. Tennessee
  4. West Virginia
  5. Louisiana
  6. Montana
  7. South CArolina
  8. Kentucky
  9. Alabama
  10. North Carolina

How about teen pregnancies? Below the mid point and dominating the list for ‘least teen pregnancies’, all of New England and most of the NorthEast. And what region dominates the list for ‘most teen pregnancies’? Lookee here:

STATES WITH MOST TEEN PREGNANCIES:
New Mexico – 93/1,000
Mississippi – 90/1,000
Texas – 85/1,000
Nevada – 84/1,000
Arkansas – 82/1,000
Arizona – 82/1,000
Delaware – 81/1,000
Louisiana – 80/1,000
Oklahoma – 80/1,000
Georgia – 78/1,000

STATES WITH FEWEST TEEN PREGNANCIES:
Iowa – 51/1,000
Nebraska – 50/1,000
Utah – 48/1,000
Wisconsin – 45/1,000
Maine – 43/1,000
Massachusetts – 42/1,000
North Dakota – 42/1,000
Minnesota – 42/1,000
Vermont – 38/1,000
New Hampshire – 33/1,000

How about high school dropouts by State? A pattern emerges.

bbbbbbbbbbbb

If you’ve nothing else to do at the moment, how about some geography?

For those who think about issues like our odd quirk of a weirdly unrepresentative Senate – or those who enjoy thinking about historical what-if’s – this is a short, fun (albeit whimsical) read. The author asks should we redraw the State lines and he says it’s not a new question.

How about States based on geography? Or population? Or cultural similarities? Or watersheds? Perhaps invite Canada to the party?

Here’s a possible 50-state map based on population. (Would someone please explain to Sarah Palin where most Americans live? Thank you.)

Here’s one that contemplates State borders based on shared history and culture.

The author of this ‘cultural’ map notes that:

Ohio is the quintessential swing state because, Woodard says, it’s partitioned. The state’s northeast was once part of Connecticut, so it’s populated by Yankee settlers who did things like found Oberlin College. Moving south, there’s a strip of peaceable Midwesterners living in what Woodward calls The Midlands, and then farther south you get to Appalachia, the political opposite of Yankeedom. “Those two things do not work together at all, and yet they both ended up in the same state,” he said

We’re not them, so who are we?

 In the quarter-century after World War II, the country established collective structures, not individual monuments, that channeled the aspirations of ordinary people: state universities, progressive taxation, interstate highways, collective bargaining, health insurance for the elderly, credible news organizations.

That’s from a NY Times op-ed today by George Packer (author of one of my favorite Iraq War era books, The Assassins’ Gate). It was true then. But we all know it’s not true now.

Later in his piece (which is about individualism as reflected by a celebrity obsessed culture), he uses the phrase ‘the great leveling’. And that perfectly explains I think why that post-War era succeeded and did so on every level.

The shared experience of WWII touched everyone, whether at war or at home. At war, the mechanic served with the lawyer whose car he fixed, and the young kid with an 8th grade education spent lonely nights talking to college professors.  Even more powerful in its effect on the later society was that they not only shared the experience but during it they were equals – all called to service by their country, wearing the same uniforms, fighting in the same battles with the same weapons. ‘GI Joe’ carried the same rifle as his lieutenant did.

They shared too, by rising to the challenge. And when it was done, they shared the tears and the pride.

It’s possible for societies to exhibit those values even without war. There are some here on our planet who manage it. But for us, that day is past.

We’ll never be those people again.

Now go have a nice day!

Sorry FOXers, this isn’t about ‘envy’ or whatever your current word is.This is danger, a threat the future of the nation.

What David Frum called the conservative entertainment complex continues to dismiss and even mock any expressed concern about income inequality in the United States. They honestly don’t know what they’re talking about. This is one of the very best explanatory videos I’ve ever watched. It’s pretty viral right now, so you may have seen it. If not, take the full six minutes to watch; every moment of this is clear, precise, informative and ultimately of course quite alarming.

Any country that lets this continue dooms itself to oligarchy, to instability, civic unrest . . . a nasty future awaits and denying it doesn’t make it not so.

h/t friend Brian. (Nice to see you at the theatre too!)

How a nation commits suicide at the checkout

If these guys are sharing the occasional cocktail with Monsanto we’re cooked . . . from The Grist, here:
walmart

What YOU Can Do on May Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

May Day is an international day of celebration to honor the labor movement. This year the Occupy movement has made a call for mass action—the May First General Strike (#M1GS): a day without the 99%. Over 115 US cities have organized in solidarity with this call to action.

A general strike is a way to build and demonstrate the power of the people. It’s a way to show this is a system that only exists because we allow it to. If we can withdraw from the system for one day we can use that day to build community and mutual aid. We can find inspiration and faith—not in any leaders or bosses but in each other and in ourselves.

If you are inspired by the day of action but don’t live near any organized events you can still take part. If you can’t strike, take the first step. We can work to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the people little by little in our everyday lives.

Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  1. Move Your Money: If you haven’t already, May Day is as good as any to move your money out of a national, corporate bank into a local bank or credit union. Support your local community and break up the “too big to fail” Wall Street banks that threaten our economic system. Learn more about moving your money here: www.moveyourmoneyproject.org
  2. Have a Potluck: Share a meal with others and and talk about subsidized agriculture and factory farming or make a meal with friends to serve to local homeless people a la Food Not Bombs.
  3. Start a Personal/Community Garden: On May Day, start or pledge to start a personal or community garden. Growing our own food means independence from corporate farms. This is one more way to take your self out of a system bent on keeping us complacent.
  4. Have a Free Store/FairGet together and share your unwanted items with others. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You could be helping someone who was about to go out and buy a (fill in your item here) anyway.
  5. Ride your bike to work/carpool with friends: Ride your bike or arrange a carpool to work. When you do this you are lessening our country’s dependency on outdated, unclean energies.
  6. Screen a Movie: Invite your friends or neighbors over to watch a documentary. After, have a discussion about how it relates to your values or the ideas of Occupy. You can watch political documentaries online at the following links for free:
    http://http://crimethinc.com/movies/

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/category/politics/

    http://www.documentarytube.com/category/political-documentaries
    http://freedocumentaries.org/
  7. Have a Skill Share: Give a free class to share your skills and knowledge. This could be as simple as giving a knitting demonstration or as complex as teaching someone a new language.

We have the power in our hands to change the course of our day to day realities if we are willing to participate and reach out to our neighbors and communities. In the words of Steven Biko, ”the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Big business should not be in control of us, we are the many and they are the few.

(Source)

Don’t forget to look for actions in your area here or here.

May Day 2012: a real Labor Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

ImageSpring is in the air, and you know what that means–that’s right, Occupy Wall Street is back, bigger and better than ever! Although actions have been ongoing for several weeks, the first major action will be the worldwide General Strike called for May 1st. From OccupyWallSt.org:

May 1st, also known as International Workers’ Day, is the annual commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when Chicago police fired on workers during a General Strike for the eight-hour workday. In many countries, May 1st is observed as a holiday. But in the United States, despite the eventual success of the eight-hour-workday campaign, the holiday is not officially recognized.

Now, in response to call-outs from Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Oakland, and other General Assemblies and affinity groups, the Occupy Movement is preparing to mobilize a General Strike this May 1st in solidarity with struggles already underway to defend the rights of workers, immigrants, and other communities who are resisting oppression. Dozens of Occupations in cities and towns throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia have already endorsed May Day.

To quote the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, who recently called for a national General Strike in Spain on March 29th to protest labor reforms:

For the CNT, the strike on March 29 must be only the beginning of a growing and sustained process of mobilization, one which includes the entire working class and the sectors that are most disadvantaged and affected by the capitalist crisis. This mobilization must put the brakes on the dynamic of constant assaults on our rights, while laying the bases for the recovery and conquest of new social rights with the goal of a deep social transformation.

I’ll be at the NYC action; hope to see you there! I’ll post links and updates as they become available.

Still believe in The Heritage Foundation?

Will the apologists for our emerging American oligarchy try to talk their way around even this?

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States has an economic freedom score of 76.3, which makes the United States rank tenth out of one hundred seventy-nine ranked countries. Hong Kong ranks first, with an economic freedom score of 89.9.

For those who don’t know, here‘s who they are:

Heritage’s stated mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense”.

They think we’re not doing so well.  And in case you didn’t know, here’s who they are:

Heritage is primarily funded through donations from private individuals and charitable foundations. Businessman Joseph Coors contributed the first $250,000 to start The Heritage Foundation in 1973. Other significant contributors have included the conservative Olin, Scaife, DeVos and Bradley foundations.

In 2007, Heritage reported an operating revenue of $75.0 million dollars. As of February 2011, Heritage reported 710,000 supporters.[28] Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program.[29]

Those are family foundations, very very conservative family foundations that provided much of the funding for the anti-Clinton crusade of the 90’s: the eternal Paula Jones lawsuit, the fake Whitewater ‘scandal’ – even personal financial support for the public accusers around the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

They are also drivers of a new American oligarchy.  Putin would love them.

But it’s entertaining, and that’s what matters here

Mac this morning; from an article from Der Spiegel, the largest circulation newspaper in Germany, read all over the world. And this is what they think of our GOP clown train.

(To those who disdain all those ‘elite Europeans” – opinions matter. They matter in business, in investments, and in diplomatic relations. They really matter.)

The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals. The current crop of candidates have shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein. The Grand Old Party is ruining the entire country’s reputation. . . .

They lie. They cheat. They exaggerate. They bluster. They say one idiotic, ignorant, outrageous thing after another. They’ve shown such stark lack of knowledge — political, economic, geographic, historical — that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein and even cause their fellow Republicans to cringe.

“When did the GOP lose touch with reality?” wonders Bush’s former speechwriter David Frum in New York Magazine. In the New York Times, Kenneth Duberstein, Ronald Reagan’s former chief-of-staff, called this campaign season a “reality show,” while Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan confidante Peggy Noonan even spoke of a “freakshow.”

Here’s the Der Spiegel headline: A Club of Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses

They’ve got this part right:

So the US elections are a reality show after all, a pseudo-political counterpart to the Paris Hiltons, Kim Kardashians and all the “American Idol” and “X Factor” contestants littering today’s TV. The cruder, the dumber, the more bizarre and outlandish — the more lucrative. Especially for Fox News, whose viewers were recently determined by Fairleigh Dickinson University to be far less informed than people who don’t watch TV news at all.

I’m so proud.

Mom, apple pie, the flag and OWS

I just picked this up from Bartcop, where someone else picked it up from a facebook post. There was no link.

  • In the 1930s and 40s factory workers, miners, and laborers demonstrated for better and safer working conditions.
  •  They were first ignored, then mocked, then violent conflict erupted. Even the US army was called to “maintain order”. A number were killed. The result was the union movement.
  •  In the 1950s and 60s, blacks demonstrated for equal rights. They were first ignored, then mocked, then shot, beaten, attacked with dogs and fire hoses, some were killed. But the result was civil rights/anti discrimination laws.
  • In the 1960s and 70s there were demonstrations against the Vietnam War. First ignored, then mocked, then the clubs, fire-hoses and bullets came out. But the result was the war ended!
  • Today we have financial inequality and corporate abuse. Some chose to demonstrate,. They were at first ignored, then mocked, and now the violence has begun. I believe that the result will be that the people will prevail!

I’d add that it took street marches, protests and violence for over 30 years until women got the right to vote in 1920. Later,  mountains of anti-discrimination legislation resulted from the feminist protest movement of the 70’s.

That’s the way stuff happens. That’s the way we were born as a nation.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.                                                                                  – Mohandas Ghandi

Income gap – no comment

h/t mac at Talk & Politics

Not unbloggy, busy . . .

. . . and Orhan has it covered, which is a good thing.

Meet US Debt Clock dot org:  I was directed to this site today. Lots of candy, so use caution if you go there – it’s a time hog. Be sure to check the tabs at the bottom of the home page or click for the World Debt Clock or a State Debt Clock.

Extreme obfuscation. David Brooks duz it

I go back and forth with New York Times columnist David Brooks – he’s occasionally witty or even wise, but is more often the master of pretending that things that do matter, don’t.

Today Brooks is at his absolutely most dishonest as he pretends to answer a question that’s never asked. Ever.

Foreign tourists are coming up to me on the streets and asking, “David, you have so many different kinds of inequality in your country. How can I tell which are socially acceptable and which are not?”

Huh?

Who the Elvis asks such a question? We all know the question that’s really being asked, but that would be inconvenient to answer. So we have column committing the sin of fakery, and full of meaningless nonsense. I do miss Anthony Lewis.

Why Occupy Wall Street? Here’s why.

The surprise $5.00 debit card fee banks recently imposed on their customers is going away.  Bank of American, Sun Trust, JP Morgan Chase and others are now trying to tiptoe off the front pages.

We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, the bank’s co-chief operating officer, said in a statement.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co last week decided to cancel test programs, while SunTrust Banks Inc and Regions Financial Corp said on Monday they would end monthly charges and reimburse customers.

For most Americans, the fee was a step too far from those ‘job creators’ who earlier wallowed in ugly, amoral behaviors screwing not just us but each other, and sent us into a four year trailspin of a recession that could take as long as a decade to repair.

This time, I think those ‘bankers’ peeked out their windows and were a bit frightened by what they saw.  So I’ll call this a victory for Occupy Wall Streeters around the nation and around the world.

Thomas Friedman (forever the inspiration for the wartime Friedman Unit, or the F.U. for short), reminds us this week about one Citigroup transgression for which they’ve just been fined $285million (chump change these days), a transgression emblematic of the duplicitous and amoral behavior that hurt us all so badly.

. . .  with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.     

According to the SEC complaint:

. . . Citigroup exercised “significant influence” over choosing which $500 million of the $1 billion worth of assets in the deal, and the global bank deliberately chose collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s, built from mortgage loans almost sure to fail. According to The Wall Street Journal, the S.E.C. complaint quoted one unnamed C.D.O. trader outside Citigroup as describing the portfolio as resembling something your dog leaves on your neighbor’s lawn. “The deal became largely worthless within months of its creation,” The Journal added. “As a result, about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.”

For decades we’ve let them indulge in the worst form of crony capitalism without the rule of law that should govern such institutions. Unbridled greed took hold. And it’s been destroying capitalism. It is anti-capitalist.

Friedman goes on:

. . . .what happened to us? Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. As Senator Richard Durbin. . .  bluntly said in a 2009 radio interview, despite having caused this crisis, these same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”       

Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined.

We can’t afford this any longer.

Indeed we cannot. We now stand witness to the destruction of what it took us 250 years to build.

I don’t see anyone with power stepping up, leaving it up to the people.  And, no matter the tired 1960’s stereotypes the right is so enthralled with, that is why we have Occupy Wall Street.

Bet they’ll have a b-i-g cake!

I recently discovered EarthCam, which trains a live eye on well known locations around the world (Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China etc). Tonight might be a great time to stop by for a birthday party, as the Statue of Liberty turns 125.  Festivities and fireworks over the harbor are planned. The cameras provide  multiple viewing perspectives. I won’t be home in real time – maybe they’ll provide a link back. Hope so. Happy Birthday, Lady.

How is this healthy for a nation? It isn’t. It’s destructive.

We need to fix this or it’ll ruin us.

WASHINGTON — The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday . . .

In this report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

‘splains a lot now, doesn’t it

from chrispiasck

You gotta have a lot of prisoners to save money this way

A special state indeed. Texas is going to cut costs in its prison system by:

  • Texas ended the decades-old practice of serving last meals to inmates about to be executed after one man ordered an elaborate feast of hamburgers, pizza and chicken-fried steaks that he did not eat. (Well, that alone must have saved hundreds of dollars!)
  • Most states serve their inmates milk in cartons, but Texas prison officials said switching to powdered milk would save them an estimated $3.5 million annually.
  • Thousands of other inmates in the Texas prison system have been eating fewer meals since April after officials stopped serving lunch on the weekends in some prisons as a way to cut food-service costs.

In the US, two million people are in state prisons alone. In 2010, 225,000 of them were in Texas, or 1 in 100 residents. They built 174 new state prisons between 1979 and 2000, a 706% increase. (Texas has cut its prisoner growth rate in the last few years, but still holds the lead.)

Wonder how many of those prisons are private for-profit?

Cafferty mirrors Santorum? Santorum mirrors Cafferty?

I enjoy Jack Cafferty’s rants on CNN, but see them only on youtube these days as one needs to pass through the Blitzer to get to Cafferty. Listen to what he said this week:

If you refuse to believe your car is leaking oil, the car will break. And the cost will be high.

Here’s me, giving Santorum his due (well, David Frum actually).

I heard this the other night. It was otherworldly. But I heard it indeed. From Frum Forum today:

Rick Santorum is not exactly an odds-on favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. And perhaps that’s why it was Santorum who felt free to articulate an important truth in the GOP candidates’ debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.

“Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America. “ . . .

The American dream is still alive. It’s just more likely to come true in Denmark than in the USA. In fact, the American dream is less likely to come true in the USA than in any other major economy except the United Kingdom’s.

The freezing of income mobility is distinct from, but probably related to, two other important trends in American life: The stagnation of middle-class incomes and the widening of the gap between rich and poor.

It’s mostly been ignored of course, because Romney touched Perry, which was very important news indeed.

Something our Civil War didn’t change . . .

In the 1860’s, the South had largely ignored the Industrial Revolution – they didn’t need all those fancy new machine things because they (the ruling class and aristocracy) owned many people to do the work. (And those poor whites? They were invisible.)

Then the slaves were freed – and the South found it was dirt poor. That was 150 years ago. But look . . .

Percentage of people in poverty in last 12 months

 

Real Americans

POSTED BY ORHAN

There are now over 130 #Occupying groups nationally. There’s a site to find one nearby or start your own.

I went to Zuccotti Park yesterday afternoon. The energy was different than a demonstration–the people were, well, occupying, not marching. The group was predominantly young, but people of all ages were participating. The area was mobbed with tourists, media (but not MSM), people who work in the area, some jeering, others curious or obviously sympathetic. My sense is that the energy changes from hour to hour.

There were lots of small groups, people working out tactics and strategy; if there’s anything like an organizational focus, the General Assembly is it; the emphasis is on leaderlessness, non-hierarchy, non-violence, consensus-building, giving everyone a voice.

There was a fairly heavy police presence, but the cops appeared laid back; they’re also learning–nothing energizes people like seeing college kids penned and pepper-sprayed.

Right now the people need sleeping bags, blankets, boots, food.

Gimme that old time religion, er, I mean protestin’!

This is what Occupy Wall Street is about. And now that major news outlets have deigned to take notice, it’s growing into a movement.  Invitations to local demonstrations are popping up all over Facebook (I’ve had two invitations just this morning) and this has generated an organizing site here. It gets personal at We Are the 99 Percent.  From there:

UPDATE: Here’s the official site for Occupy Wall Street. And I just found another picture I rather fancy.

Shocker: Bachmann never accepted bioethicist’s HPV vaccine bet

POSTED BY ORHAN

Yesterday was the deadline for Michele Bachmann to accept University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan’s challenge to produce a single person who’s developed “mental retardation” from Gardasil. Caplan offered to donate $10,000 to a charity of her choice if she could just locate the mystery woman whose daughter became disabled after being vaccinated for HPV. Bachmann never responded, probably because she’s been plugging her ears and humming to herself to prevent scientific facts from seeping in. Caplan says he’s still glad he made the bet because, “Politicians shouldn’t get away with hearsay. We need to hold candidates responsible for their sources.”

(Source)

Congressional leadership: not a clue

The 'gang' of four

David Frum was George W. Bush’s speechwriter mostly on economic issues. (He probably should have stayed in his comfort zone because he also authored the phrase ‘axis of evil’ about which enough said.)

Lately, he’s become a frequent critic of the rhetoric of not only the Tea Party but of Republicans in Congress. To wit: John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and John Kyl, the Republican leadership in Congress, wrote a letter yesterday to Ben Bernanke.

Frum:

I’m not shocked by much any more, but I am shocked by this: the leaders of one of the great parties in Congress calling on the Federal Reserve to tighten money in the throes of the most prolonged downturn since the Great Depression.

One line in the letter caught my eye as summing up the unreality of the Republican leaders’ position:

“We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy. Such steps may erode the already weakened U.S. dollar or promote more borrowing by overleveraged consumers.”

Are they serious? We are living through the most rapid deleveraging of the American consumer since the 1930s.

. . . if you’ve convinced yourself that Obama is the Second Coming of Malcolm X, Trotsky, and the all-conquering Caliph Omar all in one, then perhaps capsizing the US economy and plunging your fellow-citizens deeper into misery will seem a price worth paying to rid the country of him.

But on any realistic assessment of the problems faced by Americans – and not just would-be Republican office-holders – [the problem] is the recession, not the presidency.

Breitbart’s half-inch weiner

POSTED BY ORHAN
Little comment is required on this, although volumes could be written.

  • Andrew Breitbart really, really wants violent civil war in America.
  • The projection of his own hatred, violent impulses, and sense of inferiority is unambiguous.  This guy calling others bullies and thugs is bizarre.
  • Katie Couric?

Everything’s bigger in Texas (except the salaries)

POSTED BY ORHAN

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich analyzes data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on Texas job growth:

While Texas leads the nation in job growth, a majority of Texas’s workforce is paid hourly wages rather than salaries. And the median hourly wage there was $11.20, compared to the national median of $12.50 an hour.

Texas has also been specializing in minimum-wage jobs. From 2007 to 2010, the number of minimum wage workers there rose from 221,000 to 550,000 – that’s an increase of nearly 150 percent. And 9.5 percent of Texas workers earn the minimum wage or below – compared to about 6 percent for the rest of the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state also has the highest percentage of workers without health insurance.

He concludes:

…how can lower incomes possibly be an answer to America’s economic problem? Lower incomes mean less overall demand for goods and services — which translates into even fewer jobs and even lower wages.

Good question.

Obama gives good speech

POSTED BY ORHAN

Measured and persuasive, last night President Obama was the soul of moderation, rationality, and responsibility as he made the case for passing his version of the debt deal. But he did leave a few items out of his story:

He blamed his predecessor for squandering the budget on two wars and a prescription drug program. But he neglected to mention that he continued those wars, and expanded American military operations into new countries; meanwhile he secretly bargained away the public option with the same pharmaceutical companies that had benefitted from the drug program he criticized.

He pointed out that Americans making under $250K would see no tax increase at all. But he neglected to mention that those same Americans will be in fact paying more, by having to make up for the cuts to Social Security and Medicare out of their own pockets.

He called his plan a balanced approach and said no one would be required to sacrifice too much, while acknowledging the cuts would be “painful”. But he neglected to mention that he was planning Social Security and Medicare cuts as far back as January 2009; the kind of cuts a Republican president could never push through.

Obama’s narrative of reason and compromise heroically standing up to the Tea Party’s barbarian hordes was quite stirring, and if one ignores the fact that he just happened to shit-can fundamental Democratic principles and programs as the first step in the process, quite true. No doubt at this moment, Democrats are battling tooth and nail to get his version of the debt ceiling deal passed, a deal they would have fought to the death if proposed by George W. Bush.

All in all, it was an excellent speech; classic Obama.

A dime’s worth of difference?

POSTED BY ORHAN

So Obama offers a debt deal to the Republicans: he’ll cut Social Security and Medicare. In exchange, the Republicans will, maybe, allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. Or hike some other taxes; whatever.

Now the Republicans are saying no deal, they’ll only accept spending cuts; they’ll cut Social Security and Medicare, plus keep the Bush cuts, but deep-six the tax hikes.

So, let’s see, that means if Option 1, the Democratic plan, had been accepted, the rich would have been back to where they were under Clinton, and the poor and middle would have been worse off. But if Option 2, the Republican plan, is enacted, the rich will keep what they got from Bush, and the poor and middle will be worse off.

What can we say about America’s future from the horns of this little dilemma? If it plays out the way the health care farce did, we can make a few predictions:

The Tea Party will be left swinging in the breeze. The folks who screamed, “Keep your hands off my Medicare!” are about to have their Social Security and Medicare seriously FUBARed. Even the most hardcore non-rich Tea Partier will realize sooner or later there’s nothing here but, as the song says, the promise of an early death.

The Democratic base will be left swinging in the breeze, after having its veins opened, its throat slit, and a dagger slipped between its ribs. The new default “far left” bargaining position will start with Social Security and Medicare cuts. Obama will initiate his trademark “compromising” from there. Predicting which once-sacrosanct progressive program he’ll negotiate away next will be all the rage in DC.

Mainstream middle and working class Republicans will be left swinging in the breeze; it’ll just take them a while to figure it out. Sooner or later the most diehard trickle-down true believer will realize the upcoming corporate cash infusion (via “amnesty” or any other method) isn’t going to create any jobs for Americans, other than the corner-office and lobbying jobs for the politicians who sold us all down the river; but CEOs will no doubt receive some kickass bonuses over the next few years.

Life is about to get one hell of a lot harder for most Americans. Thanks to Democrats. And Republicans.

When A Country Goes Insane

One job for every five looking

That’s the headline on a recent article at Common Dreams, a website I visit when I need to refresh my inner liberal, the one who’s deeply offended by a wealthy country that let’s its children go to bed hungry. Where my Governor is bragging about the 65,000 new ‘jobs’ this year – which pay around $20K and replace the lost jobs that paid $40K.

Six million people have lost their jobs. Twenty five million are underemployed. Many will never work again. Eight trillion dollars of middle class wealth has been destroyed in the housing collapse. One out of four mortgage holders are under water, owing more on their home than it’s worth. Fifty million people are living in poverty. One out of eight Americans are on food stamps. One of every two children will be on food stamps at some point .

And meanwhile:

[The country] can’t tell truths from lies . . . Sleazy operators pass themselves off as statesmen . . . and the crowds, unable to distinguish sanctimony from sincerity, bravado from bullshit, lap it up.

Let’s just ignore:

. . . the Republicans’ response? The working and middle class need to pay. Never mind that it was Reagan and Bush I who quadrupled the national debt in only 12 years, and Bush II who doubled it again in only eight, all to grease the pockets of their wealthy base. It’s the working and middle class who need to be bled. They still have assets that can be milked from them. They can still be made more subservient, more docile.

Remember, it’s Obama’s economy. And what about the American people? The ones who aren’t the 1% who enjoyed all the economic gains of the last 30 years?

. . . they need to give up any expectation of security, or dignity. They need to give up any childish illusions that [government] is operated for any such quaint Madisonian ends as “the general welfare.” They need to put on their kneepads and accustom themselves to being grateful servants to their new feudal masters . .

And through it all:

The media genuflect before gibberish and idolize idiocy. They are the media-tors of a Gresham’s Law of public discourse where bad information drives out good. For their own slick whoring they become “players,” while everybody else is left with a debauched civic currency, a crushed economy, and a collective impotence that makes true democracy and true prosperity impossible.

God bless us every one.