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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

YEAR-END MUSINGS, 2009

This year of 2009 has proven to be a very unique, active, puzzling, and frustrating one. It began as a year of great optimism and hope, with the hated far-right war criminals George W. Bush and DICK Cheney being replaced by our nation's first African-American, (and seemingly left-of-center) President, Barack Obama. He immediately signed an executive order closing down the war crimes torture center Guantanamo prison, pushed for and passed a massive stimulus program to provide jobs and get our very sluggish economy going again, and began a drive for (we thought) a universal national health insurance program. He reaffirmed his pledge to end our occupation of Iraq and intensify our effort to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and destroy the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He also reached out to moderate Muslims by traveling to both Turkey and Egypt to give them a taste of the kinder, gentler, more tolerant side of America (i.e. the REAL America) which his far-right, nationalistic predecessor had all but destroyed. Now, at year's end, we have encountered some unexpected bumps in the road to progress which are confusing and unsettling...

Most of us on the left hoped that President Obama would act to rapidly wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our brave and vastly overworked and overstretched troops home at last. Regrettably, this has not occurred. Troop levels are being reduced in Iraq, but are actually being boosted in Afghanistan, where there is now growing hatred among the local populace of our presence there. The country's government is mired in corruption; Al Qaeda is now sequestered in the mountains of neighboring Pakistan, our shaky "ally", and billions are still being spent on this conflict, with no capture of Bin Laden, destruction of Al Qaeda, or end to the war against them in plain sight. The Afghan "government" only controls the capitol of Kabul and little else. The Taliban or tribal leaders control the rest. Our Treasury is being drained daily by this war; our troops' body counts and numbers of injured are again rising. We seem to be caught in a Vietnam-like quagmire, and that is not good. It will be at least summer before we will know any tangible results from this latest troop surge, and summer is a long way off...

Our long time friend and great "liberal lion" Ted Kennedy passed from us this year. His loss means the loss of a most strong and very devoted advocate for the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, working Americans, as well as for the cause of universal health care. Thankfully, and in part due to his forty-plus year efforts on behalf of health care reform, the House and Senate have just passed an historic health care reform bill, which, if finally reconciled and passed into law, should ideally cover many millions of now-uninsured, and end insurance company discrimination against chronically sick people. It will not be a perfect bill (far from it), but it provides a toehold for further future advance. And Ted Kennedy will be sorely missed. Hopefully, a few of the newer progressive Senators like Sherrod Brown, Ron Wyden, Al Franken, Barbara Boxer, Sheldon Whitehouse, and others, will be able to rise to the occasion and carry on Teddy's great tradition of service to the people who need help most...

The rise in prominence of delusional, disruptive, dishonest, combative, shrill, ignorant, and downright stupid conservative Republicans like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Virginia Foxx, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Jim DeMint, and a whole host of others, as well as the re-emergence of a mouthy and increasingly visible DICK Cheney on the scene is VERY disturbing. Today's Republicans are nearly universally far-right ideologues, who are committed to only two things: the total political destruction of President Obama and the Democratic Party, and the return to the complete governmental control they had from 2001-2007. Today's Republicans are no longer the "loyal opposition" (as they were when out of power in the 1960s, and as the Democrats were in the Reagan and Bush I years). Today, they are instead a combative, wholly uncooperative, obstructionist force which is not at all healthy for the country. They offer no solution to our problems beyond the failed policies they effected during much of the past three decades. They place their own agenda far ahead of the national good. With them, EVERYTHING is a calculated political move designed to self-servingly maximize their own benefit. They are obsessed with power and total control. Their prior total control of government, as we all know, led directly to the rich getting far richer at everybody else's expense, the manifestation of an all-powerful and unaccountable presidency, a weakening of individual rights, illegal imperialistic warfare, war crimes, severe damage to our prestige and credibility around the world, and an economic collapse and near-depression. WE PROGRESSIVES MUST DO ALL WE CAN NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND TO ENSURE THEY NEVER AGAIN ACHIEVE TOTAL GOVERNMENTAL CONTROL! Until this party returns to its more sensible, cooperative, and moderate previous state, it must never again control our government or dominate its agenda!

The conservative Republicans, aided by their corrupt and wealthy corporate insurance backers, as well as their unscrupulous propaganda media organ, Fox "News", were successful in creating public outrage from an extremely loud minority over mythical upcoming tax increases and a mythical upcoming government takeover of the economy and our health care system. Through repeated exaggeration, distortion, and outright lies, they succeeded in scaring hundreds of thousands of elderly and ill-informed people into actually believing the President is a Nazi (how utterly ridiculous), or, paradoxically, that he has a socialist agenda (equally ridiculous). They whipped these unfortunate people and a good number of uninformed malcontents into a frenzy of government-hatred by manufacturing "tea party" protests at the Capitol and elsewhere. They encouraged these "teabaggers" to disrupt Democratic congresspersons' town hall meetings in August, actively busing people in and giving them precise instructions on what to say as they shouted down the congresspersons and their legitimate citizen participants. The underlying theme was that Obama and Democrats wanted to take away their freedoms, which was preposterous. As we all know, the real Democratic agenda is to roll back the power of the wealthy and big business and prevent them from denying people insurance and continually raising prices. Sarah Palin and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley conjured up whopping lies about Obama "death panels" and "throwing grandma under the bus." These teabaggers, many of whom aren't all that bright (witness the spelling of "mortgage" on the protestor's sign in the picture), and especially their corporate and Republican sponsors, were subverting democracy with these Nazi Brown Shirt bullying tactics. Their actions were FAR more akin to Nazis and national socialism than ANYTHING President Obama had proposed, said, or done. They were the personnification of the great conservative Republican anti-democratic, anti-Democratic lie. In effect, these conservative Republican and corporate organizers like Dick Armey and Rick Scott were manipulating stupid teabaggers into cutting their own economic throats by getting them to argue for a preservation of the status quo in our current broken health care and regressive tax systems. Their entire aim was to derail the health care reform effort with fear and hysteria, and to weaken and discredit the President. That is not loyal opposition, my friends: that is agitation, subversion, and insurrection.


This poster at left, brandished by some of the teabaggers, is a perfect illustration of the hatred, intolerance, racism, ignorance, and total dishonesty being expressed by far-right conservative Republican elements in this country today. It is also proof positive of their anti-democracy tendencies. Again, this is not loyal opposition. This is a malevolent, power-hungry force which MUST be overcome! THESE PEOPLE DO NOT BELONG IN GOVERNMENT AND WE MUST WORK EXTRA HARD IN 2010 TO KEEP THEM OUT!
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There are many important initiatives lying ahead which must be undertaken and put into effect, and QUICKLY. We MUST get money out of the hands of huge Wall Street banks and lent out to Main Street small businesses! We MUST create more jobs, especially "green" jobs and those which repair and renew our rapidly decaying infrastructure! We MUST reduce pollution and reverse the effects of global warming! We MUST roll back Bush's insane tax cuts for the very rich and tax them more fairly and heavier, so that the majority of the rest of the country can have some much-needed tax relief! There is far too much pressing and important work which MUST begin SOON to allow it to be delayed or derailed by anti-progress, anti-democratic conservative Republican obstructionist naysayers! That's why 2010 will be such a pivotal year. The Republican forces of disruption, obstruction, and reaction MUST be turned away and thrown out of office, and a new progressive tide of fairness, justice, and vision must replace them and sweep this country! We progressives, along with our President, have been far too genteel and conciliatory with these beasts. We have allowed them to get away with constant lying and distorting. We have been standing still in the face of a fierce Republican assault for far too long. Rather than taking a defensive posture, we need to go on the attack, BIG time! We need a unified voice shouting out these conservatives for what they are: friends of the wealthy and enemies of working America. Stodgy gulpers at the public trough who are helping to deny us health care and wasting time and tax dollars on political ploys like filibusters and staged demonstrations. Bought-out shills who place outlandish corporate profit well in front of the people's need. Servants to billionaires and scourges of everyday ordinary people, who are oblivious to the true pressing needs of the country. They need to have their lies immediately and loudly dispelled, so they can be called on the carpet and exposed for the money-wasting frauds they are! Unlike them, we do not have to lie and spin to paint them as the useless and dangerous group that they are. We cannot allow Republican gains in the congressional elections next fall, period. The President has been pushed rightward off the campaign pledges he made last year which got him elected. WE must push him back leftward by relieving the nonstop Republican pressure he has been getting. WE must actively press for and support the election of more progressive, preferably progressive Democratic or Democratic-caucusing candidates to achieve this. I believe that pushing for a MASSIVE conservative Republican defeat at next year's polls will also have a ripple effect on turning some of the aggravating "Blue Dog" Democrats further leftward, too. This can only result, though, if we work hard for it - harder even than we did to get Obama elected. That is why we cannot afford to dejectedly sit on our hands and not vote come next November. The stakes are crucial, my progressive friends. As I write this today, I wonder: are we on the left up to the task?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS TEAR-JERKER


This beautiful tale was passed on to me by my friend, Bruce Moores. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! But be sure to get out your tissue---you'll need it!


Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

"Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling, "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but " the old
woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph... my granddaughter well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying.

He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon.... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug.

A child the tender age of his own son -- 4 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.
As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement, and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh, yes, Santa... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you, "he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night.... all is calm, all is bright." The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah, "he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!" He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

"Yes, Santa! "Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her.

After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!" Santa's jaw gaped.

Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope.

This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well.
He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!

If you believe in miracles, feel free to pass this on...as I did.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

THE GIFT FROM AFAR















Santa's FINALLY laughing. "HO! Ho! Ho!", he bellowed. "Can you BELIEVE these guys?" The Republicans had sent me a GIFT!




OK, now that you've fallen off your chairs at the thought of conservative Republicans sending ME, of all people, a GIFT, pick yourself up. What they really sent me was a little yellow envelope that contained their gift of tdistortion and spin, which caused Santa and I to laugh heartily. The yellow (?) envelope contained at top left the return address of "2010 Obama Agenda Survey / Republican National Committee / 310 First Street, SE / Washington, DC 20003". (Not too tough a zip code to figure out: they're now a 2nd rate party, are full of zeroes, and are 3rd in popularity behind Democrats and Independents. I'll remember that one pretty easily). Below their return address was a box containing my congressional district, and, at bottom left, in bold capital letters, was printed the command "DO NOT DESTROY." I thought, "THIS oughta be rich!", so I opened up the envelope.


Inside, I was met with a 15 question survey with questions so skewed in the way they were framed, it almost looked like Lou Dobbs or Glenn Beck had designed the questionnaire. There were circles of YES, NO, or NO OPINION for the respondent to fill in. (Naturally, being a thorough person, I not only filled in the circles, but wrote in comments as well). Here is how the questions read:

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1. Do you agree with Barack Obama and the Democrats that taxes should be raised for the sake of "fairness," regardless of the negative impact it is likely to have on the economy?

2. Do you believe the federal government has gone too far in bailing out banks, insurance companies, and the auto industry?

3. Do you support amnesty for illegal immigrants?

4. Should English be the official language of the United States?

5. Are you in favor of granting retroactive Social Security eligibility to illegal immigrants who gain U.S. citizenship through an amnesty program?

6. Are you in favor of expanded welfare benefits and unlimited eligibility (no time, education, or work requirements) that Democrats in Congress are pushing to pass?

7. Do you believe that Barack Obama's nominees for federal courts should be immediately and unquestioningly approved for their lifetime appointments by the U.S. Senate?

8. Do you believe that the best way to increase the quality and effectiveness of public education in the U.S. is to raidly expand federal funding while eliminating performance standards and accountability?

9. Do you support the creation of a national health insurance plan that would be administered by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.? (I added these italics for emphasis)--JJ

10. Do you believe that the quality and availability of health care will increase if the federal government dictates pricing to doctors and hospitals? (I added these italics for emphasis)---JJ

11. Are you confident that new medicines and medical treatments will continue to be developed if the federal government controls prescription drug prices and sets profit margins for research and pharmaceutical companies? (I added these italics for emphasis)---JJ

12. Are you in favor of creating a government-funded "Citizen Volunteer Corps" that would pay young people to do work now done by churches and charities, earning Corps Members the same pay and benefits given to military veterans?

13. Are you in favor of reinstituting the military draft, as Democrats in Congress have proposed?

14. Do you believe that the federal government should allow the unionization of Department of Homeland Security employees who serve in positions critical to the safety and security of the nation?

15. Do you support Democrats' drive to eliminate workers' right to a private ballot when considering unionization of their place of employment?

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For those of us who closely follow the issues of the day, it was quite easy to see this was a blatantly transparent effort by the ultra-conservative Republican Party to scare the uninformed and independents into thinking the President and his party are off their rockers, are putting the country in jeopardy, are trying to control business, are encouraging a flood of new illegal immigrants, and are trying to force all workers into joining labor unions. (Geez---I thought sending obscenity like this through the mail was illegal)! It was another in a long and growing list of examples of how the GOP is trying to use fear and insinuation to undermine confidence in the President while offering nothing of substantive value themselves to help the country get past its very pressing problems of the moment. This sneaky and underhanded ploy, of course, is to sow such uncertainty around the President and Democrats in general that voters will fearfully turn to Republican candidates in 2010 and 2012.

This Republican technique of deliberate exaggeration, distortion, insinuation, and outright lie is disgraceful. Party Chairman Michael Steele, who authored an accompanying four page letter of appeal for funds, echoed in his appeal a lot of the same nonsensical charges which comprised the questionnaire. He should be ashamed of himself. No wonder Santa exclaimed, "can you BELIEVE these guys?" I sure can't!

After filling in my caustic comments and completing the survey, I dutifully mailed it back to the RNC. I rather doubt they'll ever bother sending ME another such "gift from afar." Happy holidays, everybody!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

KILL THIS BILL!

NOBODY has wanted a meaningful health care reform bill more than I. By meaningful, of course, I refer to a bill that would provide universal overage, end discriminatory pre-existing condition exclusions and recision practices by greedy health insurance companies, end age and gender discrimination, and stop the unjustifiable, arbitrary, and continual rises in health care premium and prescription drug prices. But the current Senate bill does none of those things and is meaningless. The pro-insurance profits Republican congressional delegation, and insurance industry shills like Senators Joe LIEberman and Mary Landrieu have seen to that. The clip below sums up this unfortunate situation far better than I can.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



This bill, as currently composed, is proof positive we have passed from being a democracy into being a PLUTOCRACY, as I mentioned in my previous post, Of, By, and For the Few. I stand with Keith Olbermann and Gov. Howard Dean when I now shout:

KILL THIS BILL!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OF, BY, AND FOR THE FEW

When we were very young, we were all taught that the United States was the land of the free; the best country in the world, where virtually anyone could become rich and successful if only he or she studied diligently, applied themselves, and worked hard and long. We were told repeatedly that our form of government, and our economic system, were the best the world had ever produced, because they permitted free expression along with equal opportunity and the free pursuit of wealth.

Then we got jobs and grew up in a hurry. We found out very quickly that it was not us, but the owners we worked for who actually determined our income levels and set the prices for the goods and services we purchased. They actually made a LOT of money from our work, but only paid us a fraction of what they made as a result. We saw that this method of doing things made for an orderly system, but it also held us back for the benefit of, or advantage of, the owner. If we wanted to branch out and start our own business, we were free to do so, but doing that meant we had to borrow large sums of money from these owners or their banks, and had to do so by their rules. We had learned about slavery in school; that it was evil and had been abolished by that great liberal, and first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War. But what we weren't told, and had to learn by ourselves, was that this form of slavery was replaced by a less visible, new form: the slavery of exploitation and manipulation. This was a kinder and gentler form of slavery. It never beat us or abused us physically, and we didn't have to wear chains. But it nonetheless kept us in place, by limiting our economic freedom and making us beholden to a new set of masters - our employers who owned or managed the businesses where we worked, and/or the bankers, who lent us and those businesses the money to acquire personal or business property and posessions. We were left with only a little more real economic freedom or flexibility than a migrant worker in a field.

Throughout our school years, we were also taught that we had fought a war of independence to ensure we would not be taxed or regulated without representation, and that the government which had been established for us was therefore supposed to listen to us and actually represent us, so as to best protect us and help provide for our needs. We were never told, though, that its primary function would be to listen to and provide for the needs of the wealthy owners and bankers FIRST rather than the rest of us who didn't belong to that class. As a result, we have slowly but surely been shut out of influencing the government directly almost from the start, and it has largely ignored us many times in this country's history. Especially now and over the past three decades, this process has greatly accelerated. Thus, we have become a PLUTOCRACY, where the wealthy effectively control the government through bribery and manipulation, and are no longer a democracy, in which there is simple majority rule.

To be fair, we have indeed had more truly democratic periods of governance, most notably during the first fifteen years or so of the 20th century, the New Deal era of the 1930s-early 1940s, and the 1960s-early 1970s. During these periods, the government actually acted in varying degrees on behalf of the majority of the population, including the poor, working class, middle class, and even enacting laws deferential to racial and cultural minorities, effectively legislating for their benefit and protecting them from or even reversing exploitation from the far-less-in-number wealthy, big business owners, and bankers. Workers', women's, and minority rights were established and defined in law and upheld in courts. Wages and buying power rose across the income spectrum, and consumer protections were instituted. However, over the past 30 years, conservative politicians like Ronald Reagan, and ultra-conservative ones like Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Bill Frist, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney have muted or effectively eliminated nearly all of the gains made by the aforementioned non-wealthy groups. Today's workers have relatively far less self-determination and upward mobility than they had attained only a generation or two ago. The term "free market" has come to mean the freedom of big business and concentrated capital to eliminate or severely cripple labor unions, not the freedom of workers to negotiate more equitable pay and benefit scales. The result has been frozen or declining worker wages and a simultaneous skyrocketing of executive pay. What was once a progressive tax system which heavily taxed the rich to provide for those beneath them (a system strongly favored by both Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, and subsequent President Lincoln) has given way to a regressive system which funnels money upward rather than down the income scale. But worst of all, our government, which those same conservatives love to proclaim is "of, by, and for the people" has effectively now become one of, by, and for the few. Lobbyists funded by big business interests have effectively bought out a majority of Congress, and many Congresspersons, Joe Lieberman being a prime example. He, like many, now habitually votes against the wishes of his own constituents to please the desires of lobbyists and big businesses, which shovels huge sums of campaign cash to elected officials such as he. In some cases, lobbyists have even authored bills which members of Congress have affixed their names to!

All of this is explained brilliantly in a gem of a book called Democracy For The Few by noted scholar Michael Parenti. It is a book I would highly recommend. It is a MUST for those who wish to understand how and why our government and business community have become so out of touch and unresponsive to our needs. Parenti points out how this country's government was drawn up and put in place mainly by white, wealthy, land-owning aristocrats (which is what the majority of our Founding Fathers werre), the precedents that were set early on, and the effects of which remain in place to this day. He gives numerous examples of how and why the wealthy and powerful elite have shut the rest of us out of power throughout our history, as well as how that is occurring today. He traces the rise of big business and corporate influence over government. It is a fascinatingly comprehensive and accurate analysis of how this country has come to be dominated by special interests, and has undergone class wardare and political and cultural polarization. The book provides much food for thought! It helps us better understand what is really happening in our society and government today, and why. Most importantly, though, it provides a number of proposed solutions for fixing the mess we're in and for restoring some semblance of balance to the current economic and political jumble we are trapped within at present. Though scholarly in scope, Democracy For The Few is a relatively easy read. It is available in paperback form Amazon.com, and it is well worth owning. Due to its classification as a college textbook, its price is spendy, but don't let that scare you off. See if your local public library has a copy (many do), or try to find it used if you don't want to invest the money in it. But DO read it, and I'm certain you will trasure it as I have come to do! It is THE definitive account of why this country is as screwed up today as it is!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

SANTA'S BOZOS FOR 2009

Poor Santa---he's had a really tough year. It doesn't look like there'll be a lot of ho-ho-hoing in store THIS Christmas! First, he found that a conservative free trade agreement had transferred some of his plant and half of his elves over to China, but the production quota for his North Pole plant had remained the same, so now he had to do more with less. Next, he learned that the big Wall Street bank he had always dealt with wasn't lending him any money this year, which further squeezed him. Then, when he started reviewing this year's prospects for his Bozo Of The Year award (clowns whose outrageous statements or acts are deserving of universal guffaws and ridicule), he was amazed and almost totally overcome. For there was SO much dishonesty and SO much stupidity pouring out of these candidates, it was nearly impossible for him to decide which one deserved the Grand Prize. Just like last year, when disgraced egomaniac and former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich won the award, this season there also seemed to be a bumper crop of Bozos. After a great deal of sweat, anxiety, and deep consideration, Santa finally decided to list the group for 2009 in this fasion:


DISHONORABLE MENTION: Several candidates just irritated Santa and wasted his time by having little or no real value to offer the world. Among these were the big Wall Street Bankers (who drove our economy to the edge of a cliff, were bailed out by all of us, then gave themselves huge bonuses but wouldn't even give Santa a loan [Santa knows they're hopeless cases anyway]); Democratic Senators Max Baucus (MT), who has attempted to water down and delay passage of a meaningful health care reform bill and also tried to get President Obama to appoint his live-in girlfriend as a U.S. Attorney (DEFINITE Bozo moves); Ben Nelson (NE), who has done all he can to delay passage of a health care bill; Evan Bayh (IN), whose wife sits on the board of health insurance giant WellPoint, and who, amazingly enough, opposes a public option on health care reform; and "Independent" Joe LIEberman (Aetna) who represents the health insurance giant Aetna but resides officially in Connecticut and caucuses with the Democrats (on everything BUT defense and health care) mainly so he can have a committee chairmanship. Santa is so bugged by these Bozos he isn't even adding them to his list, and will simply drop stink bombs down their chimneys this year.

Santa had no trouble putting THIS Bozo, Rush Limbaugh, on his list for 2009. In fact, he's gotten so used to seeing and hearing Limbaugh's crazy rants, he almost overlooked him! Ol' blabberbreath Limbaugh spoke at a gathering of conservatives during the summer and showed he doesn't know the Declaration of Independence from the Constitution. Even before that, he stated on his radio show that he wanted President Obama to fail. Now THAT'S patriotism! He also compared NFL players to black gang members, and then attempted to become part owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams franchise. So here he is again, an undeniable and recurrent Bozo! Santa's gift to Limbaugh this year will be a daily Ex-Lax milkshake, because he knows ol' Rushie boy is FULL of it, and he definitely wants to see him cleaned out good!

Santa didn't hesitate too long to add money-hungry and AAD (Attention-Addiction-Disorder) Bozo Sarah Palin to this year's list, just as he had no trouble doing so last year. Her motor mouth is still running in overdrive, and judging from passages he has seen in, and from reactions others have had to, her newly released, ghostwritten coloring - er - comic - er - "tell all" book, it should soon be headed straight for the fiction shelves, if not the trash can. And some believe this person is qualified to be PRESIDENT? A woman who can't even write her own book? (Oh well---Dubya never wrote one either. Now THAT'S a scary thought)! For her present this year, Santa is giving Palin a long overdue reading tutor, as it appears that is something she has never had. It also explains why she, supposedly a journalism major, couldn't write her own book, and knows next to nothing about practically anything, as numerous interviews have proven. Good for Santa---he has a lot more patience with self-obsessed people like her than I do!

This sourpuss Bozo is Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice President, and who is as equally paranoid and irrational as her dad. Like father, like daughter, as they say. All she can do is parrot her papa, tell crazy stories, and constantly criticize the President. This purveyor of paranoia doesn't have a sweet bone in her body, so Santa and the elves have begun to call her "Lime." Santa's gift to her this year will be a big cookie loaded with alum, which he hopes will cause her mouth to pucker up so much that she won't be able to spout out any more nonsense for a long while.

Embittered and paranoid old coot Dick Cheney has earned a spot on Santa's list of Bozos for 2009 due to his arrogance, dishonesty, and sour disposition. This Bozo is SO sour, in fact, that Santa and the elves have taken to calling him "Lemon" to go along with his equally sour daughter "Lime." Cheney has been on a months-long diatribe about how President Obama is incorrectly handling all aspects of foreign policy and is projecting American weakness to her foes. But isn't that exactly what "Lemon" does himself when he constantly undercuts the President? By making foolish public pronouncements as he did only hours before a major Afghanistan war speech President Obama gave this past week, didn't "Lemon" attempt to politically weaken the President and therefore fuel Al Qaeda's flames? Santa was SO displeased at this action taken by "Lemon" that his gift to Cheney this year will be a box of chocolates and a muzzle: the candy to sweeten him up, and the muzzle to SHUT him up!

This Bozo, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, is as phony as his sprayed-on tan and faked outrage over the President's economic Stimulus Package. His sole agenda is to oppose and discredit the President on EVERYTHING, no matter what repercussions it has for the country. Last spring, he loudly claimed to have a new GOP Stimulus Bill in hand, but the book he was waving for the cameras was BLANK, and the plan he eventually produced contained only generalities, more tax cuts for the rich, and no expenditure figures. He also claimed to have a GOP health care reform plan but never produced one. He stated that people across the country strongly oppose a Public Option for health care, when in fact all national polls have consistently shown strong SUPPORT for it. He chided the President for flying overseas to try to obtain a summer Olympics for the U.S. and the city of Chicago (a move which would have netted that city many jobs and the city AND our country many MILLIONS OF DOLLARS). Then it was revealed that Boehner had attended numerous golf junkets over the past year totaling more than $82,000, which were paid for with leftover campaign funds. This, of course, created NO jobs and netted very little benefit for anybody but Boehner. This would seem to qualify as a whopping, bona-fide Boehner boner, wouldn't it? Folks, this guy is about as real as the tooth fairy. Santa's present to him this year will be a lie detector kit, which he hopes Boehner will use on HIMSELF every day!

Now's here's a genuine, 100% Bozo: soon-to-be FORMER South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford. This arrogant clown thought he could leave the country for a hot little affair with an Argentine national and be gone for days at a time without telling anybody, and without checking in with his aides and associates, so he was unable to be reached in the event of a state emergency. To top it off, it appears that state funds may have been used in some of these trysts! An aide tried to cover up for him during his absence by saying that the Governor was out "hiking the old Appalachian trail", but nobody bought that. Santa's present for him this year will be the gift of impeachment. Nice job, Bozo Sanford.

Minnesota Republican 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a PERENNIAL Bozo, easily made it on Santa's Bozo list again this year by once more babbling nonstop insanities. Early in the year she wailed that the President was trying to do away with rich people. Next,she exhorted Minnesotans to take up arms in rebellion against President Obama's proposed tax hikes on the wealthy, and to come to the Capitol for a big protest against federal spending. For her active calls for insurrection, and to help curb the torrents of vile stuff constantly pouring from her mouth, Santa's gift to Rep. Bachmann this year will be a case - no - a truckload - of Immodium AD.

Second runner-up for this year's Bozo is Republican Illinois Representative Mark Kirk. This Bozo, at the height of our economic problems earlier this year, when we needed to borrow billions to help invigorate the sick economy Kirk and his conservative Republican cohorts had helped stall, went to China and told high-ranking Chinese government officials, the largest holders of our national debt and our biggest lenders, that he didn't think we'd ever be in a position to pay down our debt to them and that we were bad risks anyway. Santa could hardly believe his eyes and ears, so now next time Rep. Kirk shows up at a bank for an auto loan or home mortgage, Santa has pledged to be there to let the loan officers know that Kirk is both a Bozo AND a deadbeat!

This year's runner up for Bozo Of The year is Fox News's one and only Glenn Beck. Having found a way to offend nearly EVERYBODY this past year with his insane accusations, outright lies, and manufacturing of wingnut anti-government revolts, Beck became the only TV show host in the history of the medium to lose more than 80 sponsors for making the blantantly racist claim that President Obama is himself a racist who "hates white culture." This, of course, makes Beck not only an outright idiot, but a definite Bozo as well.


THAT'S IT FOR THE LOSERS, FOLKS. NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADIEU, HERE HE IS---SANTA'S NO. 1 BOZO AND THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER OF THE BOZO OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR 2009:
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RICHARD HEENE! This clown, in an effort to land his own TV reality show, planned and executed an elaborately-faked scheme to make the world think his young son "Falcon" was trapped in a hot air balloon that broke loose from its moorings and was floating away. He knew, of course, that the boy was perfectly safe and at home asleep in the attic. (FALCON? And the other son named RYO? Is Heene trying to outdo the Palins for weird kid names? These names PROVE he's a Bozo)! The overly ambitious Heene had even composed and recorded a theme song for his hoped-for show in advance! But worst of all, he put on big crocodile tears for the media after he had supposedly "found" the boy safe at home, and had previously even coached the boy to puke at will out of feigned nervousness for the cameras over the "ordeal". The guy sure gave it a lot of thought and went to a lot of advance preparation for this grandiose fraudulent scheme! But he never considered the tax dollars he was wasting by tying up police, fire, and rescue workers in a search for a boy who wasn't in a balloon and wasn't lost in the first place. So, deservedly, instead of landing a TV show contract for his little attention-getting prank, all he crash-landed was a jail sentence. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a REAL Bozo, and that makes him Santa's Grand Prize winner of Bozo Of The Year for 2009. His reward? Santa will stop by his jail cell on Christmas Eve and leave him a stale, dried-out, garlic-drenched buscuit for having wasted everybody's time and money!


That does it for this year's award, folks. After dropping presents off at YOUR house on Christmas Eve, Santa and his reindeer will head back up to the North Pole to begin the arduous task of making next year's batch of presents, and reviewing the next group of Bozos for his 2010 award. Sigh...the tasks just never seem to end. Hopefully, by next year, the banks will be lending again to small businessmen like Santa, and he'll be able to hire a few new elves. Until then,

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, PEACE, and Happy New Year, everybody!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

HOUSE REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY HALL OF FAME


I recently received the information below from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. While I normally don't pass on a lot of official Party bulletins, I found this one to be particularly interesting, because it was well documented, easily reviewable, and fully substantiated. It gives 68 instances of House Republicans taking advantage of, or credit for, good economic opportunities or developments which occurred as a result of the Obama Stimulus Plan, which EACH OF THESE REPUBLICANS VOTED AGAINST.

I will be happy to post any similar hypocrisies by Democratic politicians (and for sure, these DO occur), but all I ever get from official Republican communiques is unsubstantiated, undocumented innuendo or distorted hyperbole, similar to what Fox "News" constantly presents. So, here is a fact list on congressional Republicans talking out of their backsides...


HOUSE REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY HALL OF FAME

1. Representative Bill Shuster (PA-09) - Representative Shuster attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a sewage treatment plant that was only possible because of Recovery funds. [Blairsville Municipal Authority launches plant expansion, Blairsville Dispatch, 11/25/09]
Representative Shuster asked Governor Ed Rendell to use Recovery funds to reopen Scotland School for Veterans' Children, noting it could save about 134 full-time jobs. [Shuster wants to use stimulus money to reopen Scotland School, The Herald-Mail, 11/4/09
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2. Representative Eric Cantor (VA-07) “Nearly half of the 30 organizations participating in a job fair Cantor is holding Monday in Culpeper were recipients of the stimulus." [Dems call Cantor a hypocrite on stimulus, Washington Post, 11/18/09]
The Culpeper Star-Exponent (Allison Brophy Champion) reports that Democrats are calling out Republican Whip Eric Cantor for what they claim is contradictory support of federal funding for high-speed rail in Virginia. The funding would be part of President Barack Obama's stimulus package -- the same stimulus package Cantor vehemently opposed earlier this year. [Dems: Cantor a hypocrite on high-speed rail, Culpeper Star-Exponent, 6/24/09]
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3. Representative Pete Sessions (TX-32) - Representative Pete Sessions showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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4. Representative Jack Kingston (GA-01) - Representative Jack Kingston has announced federal funding for his constituents without mentioning that the money comes from the stimulus program. [GOP won't turn down stimulus spending, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/18/09]
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5.Representative Michael McCaul (TX-10) - "I didn't support final passage but at the same time I wanted to make sure if we are spending that kind of money that much of that gets directed to Texas." [KVUE News; 2/22/09]
Representative Michael McCaul showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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6. Representative Joe Barton (TX-06) - Representative Joe Barton showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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7. Representative Michael Burgess (TX-26) - Representative Michael Burgess showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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8. Representative John Carter (TX-31) - Representative John Carter showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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9. Representative Mike Conaway (TX-11) - Representative Mike Conaway showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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10. Representative John Culberson (TX-07) - Representative John Culberson showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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11. Representative Louie Gohmert (TX-01) - Representative Louie Gohmert showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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12.Representative Kay Granger (TX-12) - Representative Kay Granger showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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13. Representative Ralph Hall (TX-04) - Representative Ralph Hall showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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14.Representative Sam Johnson (TX-03) - Representative Sam Johnson showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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15. Representative Kenny Marchant (TX-24) - Representative Kenny Marchant showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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16.Representative Randy Neugebauer (TX-19) - Representative Randy Neugebauer showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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17. Representative Pete Olson (TX-22) - Representative Pete Olson showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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18. Representative Ron Paul (TX-14) - Representative Ron Paul showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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19. Representative Ted Poe (TX-02) - Representative Ted Poe showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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20. Representative Lamar Smith (TX-21) - Representative Lamar Smith showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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20. Representative Mac Thornberry (TX-13) - Representative Lamar Smith showed his hypocrisy after asking the Obama Administration for three billion in funds for NASA from the economic recovery act, which he voted against. Members of the Texas delegation signed the letter, including two Republican Senators and 19 House Republicans who all voted against the recovery act in February. [Texas delegation wants stimulus money for NASA, Houston Chronicle, 10/5/09]
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21. Representative Frank Wolf (VA-10) - Representative Wolf recently blamed Gov. Tim Kaine for being slow in spending economic recovery money allocated to their state. Wolf told reporters, "We could use that money desperately," however if he had his way, the money never would have been allocated in the first place. [GOP Blasts Kaine on Transportation Spending, Washington Post, 10/5/09]
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22. Representative Phil Gingrey (GA-11) - Earlier this month, Gingrey presented a giant check of $625,000 in stimulus funds to the city commission of Cedartown, Georgia, to help fund the installation of new sidewalks and infrastructure - funds he voted against in the economic recovery package. [Cedartown receives federal stimulus funds for Streetscape project, Cedartown Standard, 10/13/09]
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23. Representative Eric Cantor (VA-07) - The Culpeper Star-Exponent (Allison Brophy Champion) reports that Democrats are calling out Republican Whip Eric Cantor for what they claim is contradictory support of federal funding for high-speed rail in Virginia. The funding would be part of President Barack Obama's stimulus package - the same stimulus package Cantor vehemently opposed earlier this year. [Dems: Cantor a hypocrite on high-speed rail, Culpeper Star-Exponent, 6/24/09]
[Dem's High Speed Hit, The Huddle, 6/24/09]
[Cantor criticizes stimulus package, suggests alterations, Richmond Times Dispatch, 7/7/09]
[Cantor blasts stimulus, defends rail request, Politico, 7/6/09]
[DCCC sets sights on Cantor for 'hypocrisy', The Hill, 7/6/09]
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24.Representative Bill Young (FL-10) - Rep. Bill Young of Florida's congressional Web site contains a page with dozens of links to help Floridians "take advantage of federal stimulus money." [GOP opposes plan then seeks money, AP, 8/27/09]
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25. Representative Judy Biggert (IL-13) - Last Thursday, the House passed a $123.1 billion transportation and housing appropriations bill that included an 8 percent boost for the Section 8 housing voucher program and $4 billion for President Obama's high-speed rail initiative. It also included $1.5 million in funding for two projects requested by Rep. Judy Biggert -- a Metra Station in Tinley Park and freight-related traffic relief along Ogden Avenue in Aurora. ‘These important investments will create local jobs and help keep our area's road and transit systems working for commuters,' Biggert said in a statement Friday. ‘I'm very grateful to my House colleagues for recognizing the rapidly growing transportation needs of communities and centers of commerce in our suburban area'...one tiny detail -- along with the rest of Illinois' Republican delegation, Biggert voted against the bill. [Progress Illinois, 7/28/09]
Daily Herald reported on Congresswoman Biggert’s hypocrisy in applauding recently awarded funding for Naperville to make infrastructure upgrades, when the money came out of the economic recovery package she voted against. [Stimulus Foe Biggert Supports Naperville's Use of Funds, Daily Herald 10/28/09]
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26. Representative Mary Fallin (OK-05) - Oklahoma Republican Mary Fallin asked Army Secretary Pete Geren to use $8.4 million in stimulus money for repairs to buildings at two Oklahoma National Guard sites. Fallin had called the stimulus a "Big Brother spending program" that didn't do enough to finance needed infrastructure projects. The money she and Boren sought isn't in the Pentagon's spending plans. [GOP opposes plan then seeks money, AP, 8/27/09]
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27. Representative Patrick Tiberi (OH-10) - "I am sorely disappointed that the Cherry Valley Road Interchange will not receive stimulus funding." [News Release; 3/26/09]
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28. Representative Don Manzullo (IL-16) - "Don Manzullo announced today he has secured $714,000 in federal funding to help improve health care services and higher education opportunities for residents at three institutions in Rockford." [News Release; 3/2/09]
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29. Representative Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) - "I applaud this funding for the Bakersfield Federal courthouse. Over the years, we have faced many obstacles related to this project, but worked together as a community to ensure that this project remained a high priority and would come to fruition." [KERO 23; 4/1/09]

McCarthy uses events like the one at Cal Poly to give lip service to renewable energy. [For Congressmen thinking green at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo Tribune, 5/29/09]
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30. Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01) - Representative Ed Whitfield sent out a press release calling himself "a tireless champion for community health centers both in Kentucky and throughout the country." Yet, Representative Whitfield voted against the economic recovery package which provided more than $10 million to meet demand at Kentucky health centers and to build new ones across the state. [News Release; 3/26/09]
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31. Representative Mike Rogers (AL-03) - Representative Mike Rogers voted against his own legislation to protect the Little River Canyon National Preserve in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. [Roll Call Vote, 3/25/2009]
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32. Representative Dan Lungren (CA -03) - Lungren's change of heart might be related to the fact that the Democratic Congressional Candidate (DCCC) has identified that Lungren as vulnerable to defeat in the 2010 congressional midterm elections. [Elk Grove News - Sensing Vulnerability, Lungren Backpedals on Stimulus Vote, 8/6/09]

Representative Dan Lungren sought millions in earmarks for projects in his district, then voted against the legislation to fund those projects. "I would not apologize for any of those (earmarks), but I would give them up if the president had vetoed the bill." [Amador Ledger-Dispatch; 3/17/09]

As California's economic woes continue to threaten public services to the point where 47 pink slips were recently issued to Stockton police officers, Congressman Dan Lungren is coming under fire from the blue side of the aisle in Washington for his April 23 vote against "The COPS Improvement Act." [Dems, Lungren clash on COPS funding - Amador Ledger-Dispatch, 5/29/09]
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33. Representative David Dreier (CA-26) - Representative David Dreier said, "The nation relies on Southern California's infrastructure and innovation. Strategic federal investments in these areas will yield tremendous returns from coast to coast." However Representative Dreier voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which will provide $13 billion in tax cuts, nearly $4.5 billion in infrastructure investments, and billions more for job training and education programs in California. [Southern California on the Hill; 3/10/09]
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34. Representative Jerry Moran (KS-010 - "Four Kansas Republicans had earmarked requests in the package, but voted against the overall $410 billion package... Not only did Moran and Tiahrt vote against the spending bill when the House took action in February, they also voted last week for a measure that would have removed all earmarks." [The Hutchinson News; 3/13/09]
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35. Representative Todd Tiahrt (KS-04) - "Four Kansas Republicans had earmarked requests in the package, but voted against the overall $410 billion package... Not only did Moran and Tiahrt vote against the spending bill when the House took action in February, they also voted last week for a measure that would have removed all earmarks." [The Hutchinson News; 3/13/09]
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36. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02) - "Capito informed the group that roughly $1.5 million in neighborhood stabilization funds have been made available to West Virginia, and she said the situation that many are facing in the current financial times is heartwrenching. ‘It's just breaks your heart,' Capito said." [The Journal; 3/10/09]
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37. Representative Steve King (IA-05) - "Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, announced today that $570,000 for the U.S. Highway 20 widening project has been included in the federal stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama earlier in the week." [Sioux City Journal; 3/13/09]
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38. Representative Elton Gallegly (CA-24) - "Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, announced Thursday that Thousand Oaks will get $182,881 in community development block grants through the stimulus package... In addition to the stimulus money, Gallegly's office said money for other local projects has been included in a separate funding bill the House passed Wednesday." [Ventura County Star; 2/27/09]
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39. Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon (CA-25) - "Rep. Howard P. ‘Buck' McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) called the bill ‘not the example of fiscal restraint that we need right now.' Yet it includes McKeon earmarks such as $333,000 to assist Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in designing and building a helipad and $167,000 for the Autry National Center of the American West to help pay for a new Southwest museum facility." [Los Angeles Times; 3/5/09]
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40. Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41) - "Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) declared: ‘I'm embarrassed by this omnibus spending bill.' Yet the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee secured more than $18 million in earmarks." [Los Angeles Times; 3/5/09]
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41. Representative George Radanovich (CA-19) - "Rep. George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) issued a statement on Feb. 4 declaring that he would forego earmarks... Three weeks later, Radanovich submitted a statement to the congressional record listing nearly $6.3 million in earmarks in the omnibus spending bill." [Los Angeles Times; 3/5/09]
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42. Representative Tom Latham (IA-04) - After voting against the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, Representative Latham issued three press releases congratulating himself for securing funds for projects at home. [Representative Latham's Press Release; 3/2/09, 2/27/09, 2/27/09]
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43. Representative Tom Petri (WI-06) - Representative Petri is a "strong supporter of the allocation" of $754,000 to restore and maintain navigable channels in the Two Rivers harbor, as "maintaining navigable waters in the area is essential for the local economy." [Manitowoc Herald Times; 2/27/09] Representative Petri voted against the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill.
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44. Representative Steven LaTourette (OH-14) - According to a press release from Representative LaTourette's office, LaTourette said, "I know our local departments are facing rough financial times, and there have been some department layoffs and hiring freezes across the state." It then continues to say that he "is pleased that some departments will benefit from this new COPS program." [Representative LaTourette's Press Release; 2/27/09]
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45. Representative Dean Heller (NV-02) - "We can ill afford to lose any jobs in Nevada, or anywhere else for that matter." [Elko Daily Free Press; 2/27/09]
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46. Representative Aaron Schock (IL-18) - "The biodiesel plant is ready to go. I want to call for a meeting with the state to guarantee $20 million in loans for the building of the plant. This could produce real jobs and a real stimulus in the next 30 days." [Peoria Journal Star; 2/17/09]

"Last week, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock was in East Peoria to award the city's Police Department a $410,000 federal grant to update its aging in-car video camera systems and portable radios... that money was included in the FY 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill that Schock, a Peoria Republican, voted against. [Peoria Journal Star; 6/29/09]
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47. Representative Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) - "This funding will provide much-needed assistance to local residents who are at risk of losing their homes or experiencing homelessness... I am pleased that our community will benefit from this funding." [Representative Bono Mack's Press Release; 2/25/09]
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48. Representative Dave Reichert (WA-08) - "Reichert acknowledges that the stimulus bill will deliver tangible good news to his constituents... ‘I feel a responsibility at this point to make this still work.'" [Boston Globe; 2/24/09]
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49. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) - "I see myself in two roles as a congressman. I think the first role as a policymaker in Washington and the second as an advocate for people inside this district and there are elements we'll probably be discussing - the mortgage proposal - there are probably elements that I disagree with that but if there's somebody in my district eligible for that, I'll fight to make sure they get them." [KUSA-TV; Your Show; 2/22/09]
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50. Representative Glenn Thompson (PA-05) - Thompson "said he hoped the residents within the county would benefit from the plan's massive spending and tax cuts." [Daily Collegian; 2/19/09]
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51. Representative Denny Rehberg (MT-AL)) - "I'll do anything I can to make this work." [KULR-8; 2/17/09]
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52. Representative Frank Lucas (OK-03) - "We all need to work very aggressively to make sure that every community that qualifies should be a recipient of whatever we can find in that bill." [Edmond Sun; 2/18/09]
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53. Representative Chris Lee (NY-26) - "Rep. Chris Lee was opposed to a $787 billion stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday but said he would now fight for funds included in the bill for his district... ‘Now that the bill is passed, I obviously want to ensure I do fight for projects in western New York,' Lee said." [Democrat and Chronicle; 2/18/09]
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54. Representative Adam Putnam (FL-12) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09]
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55. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09] "'Just because you vote no, doesn't mean you don't get the money,' assured Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). ‘We will fight like tigers for us to get our share.'" [National League of Cities; 3/2/09]
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56. Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09] "Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart also voted against the bill but secured funding - from $600,000 for Hialeah's police department to upgrade equipment to $6 million for the University of Miami's William Lehman Injury Research Center." [Miami Herald; 3/3/09]
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57. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-16) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09] "'The money's coming, Rooney said. ‘So I can sit on the sidelines or I can advocate for my constituents. I think it would be irresponsible of me not to fight for what I think is important in that money.'" [Palm Beach Post; 2/22/09]
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58. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09] "Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart also voted against the bill but secured funding - from $600,000 for Hialeah's police department to upgrade equipment to $6 million for the University of Miami's William Lehman Injury Research Center." [Miami Herald; 3/3/09]
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59. Representative Ginny Brown-Waite (FL-05) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09]
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60. Representative Cliff Stearns (FL-06) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09]
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61. Representative Bill Posey (FL-15) - "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09]
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62. Representative Pete Hoekstra (MI-02) - "If you know of someone thinking of buying first home, now may be the time. Stimulus incentive is very generous! Up to 8k! Check it out." [Representative Pete Hoekstra's Twitter page; 2/18/09]
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63. Representative Leonard Lance (NJ-07) - "Officials are hoping more federal money will soon be flowing to the Green Brook Flood Control Project. Under the terms of the stimulus plan signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama, infrastructure projects that are "shovel-ready" could be the first to be funded with economic recovery money. That's the hope of Rep. Leonard Lance, R-Clinton Township...'This is a classic example of a ‘shovel-ready' project,' Lance said after the tour." [mycentraljersey.com; 2/17/09]
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64. Representative Greg Walden (OR-02) - "I figure my job is to try and do whatever I can to clear the hurdles and get the projects going and the people back to work using these funds." [Mail Tribune; 2/19/09]
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65. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-09) - "Luetkemeyer said the project is considered ‘shovel ready' and that's what the economy needs. President Darrell Krueger and Luetkemeyer discussed the educational benefits of the economic stimulus package." [KTVO-TV, 2/16/09]
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66. Representative Don Young (AK-AL) - "Alaskan Congressman Don Young won a victory for the Alaska Native contracting program and other Alaska small business owners last night in H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [Congressman Don Young's Press Release; 2/13/09]
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67. Representative Ken Calvert (CA-44) - "All of us in the Inland Empire will do what we can to direct as much money as we can." [The Press Enterprise; 2/13/09]
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68. Representative John Mica (FL-07) - "I applaud President Obama's recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America's future." [Congressman John Mica Press Release; 2/13/09] Mica was also one of "Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash." [Politico; 2/19/09]



This goes beyond mere hypocrisy. This is strong evidence of a deliberate Republican conspiracy to discredit and belittle the President constantly so as to politically weaken him in an attempt to regain control of Congress and the White House for themselves. These conservative Republicans have nothing to offer this country, and all they can do is try to steal the credit from a President who DOES.


UP NEXT: "SANTA'S BOZOS FOR 2009"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO (Part 4 in a series)

This is the fourth part of a series designed to illustrate the progressive view on a wide variety of topics. It is presented so that conservatives, moderates, independents, and the apolitical will all have a better understanding of who we are and what and why we believe as we do. Again, I do not profess to speak for all progressives, but I think most of them will find a similarity between what I express here and their own beliefs.



RELIGION

There is a misconception out there that Progressives are anti-religion and simoly hate Christians. This is not at all true. Progressives believe in a large degree of individual social freedom. This includes freedom of expression AND freedom of religion. So long as the exercising of one's freedom does not hurt others or unduly infringe on their freedom or individuality, we generally oppose most restrictions on social freedom. This dedication to individual liberty means that Progressives respect the rights of all persons to believe, or not believe, as they wish; to join, or not join, a particular church or organization. We do not think a person's belief system should bar him or her from any type of employment or group.

Unlike theocracies, as in the case of Iran, where a specific religious belief dictates all law, modes of dress, and conduct, ours is a democracy, which gives its citizens the right of free action and expression within the structure of a broad legal framework. This legal framework is based in part on a long history of Judeo-Christian tradition. But neither the Jewish faith, nor the Christian faith (of any denomination), dictates or controls that legal system or the government it upholds. Unlike medieval Europe, we in the United States have no established state religion and instead follow a practice of strict separation between church and state. This wise measure prevents the occurrence of bloody religious pogroms and inquisitions which have arisen in other countries over the years. It is also an extension of what Jews and Christias alike believe was God's intention to give us all a Free Will. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus Himself even once advised those in the Temple to "give to Caesar that which is Caesar's, but give to God that which is God's." This notion of a separation between church and state is the basis for the banning of required prayer, or the display of religious icons, in public schools or government buildings. My own personal belief, and, I would think, that of libertarians and other true progressives, is that VOLUNTARY prayer in public schools, and the VOLUNTARY inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance", as well as mentions of "Christmas" and "Easter" should not be forbidden, as doing so restricts the rights of the religious to express themselves, and such expressions are not lengthy or disruptive in any case. But that is my personal view.

We Progressives believe that churches cross over an unacceptable line when they actively advise their flocks to vote for or against a specific candidate or party. After all, churches enjoy a tax-exempt status in this country, so we don't believe they should be biting the hand which gives them that freedom from taxation in such a way. Rather, since we believe that they, too, have the right of free expression, we believe their voice would be better directed at their flocks in terms of providing moral and spiritual guidance on issues as opposed to ideology.

SOCIAL MORES

Progressives do not believe there should be any discrimination against gays, lesbians, or transgender persons whatsoever. We believe it is wrong to deny anyone accomodation, employment, insurance coverage, hospital visiting rights, or anything else due to sexual preference. Unless engaged in disruptive or harmful behavior, or criminal acts with minors, we see no need to restrict those who are not heterosexual due to their private bedroom activities. After all, the state does not regulate or forbid dominant/submissive, blonde/redhead, overweight/underweight, tall/small, or any other type of physical and emotional relationship, so we believe the same standards should be applied here. And further, wee believe that what transpires in any bedroom between consenting adults is their business, and their business alone.

Progressives also believe in a woman's right to choice. We may not agree with her decision, but we recognize her fundamental and legal right to end an unwanted pregnancy as she chooses, without having to resort to old-fashioned, dangerous, back alley abortions. Being pro-choice, however, does NOT necessarily mean Progressives are pro-abortion.I personally hate abortion, and view it as the lowest act of personal irresponsibility when taken solely for matters of convenience or economics. Again, this is my personal viewpoint, and I do respect the legal precedent which has established a woman's right of choice. I only hope that each woman wishing to have an abortion would first give serious thought to the rights of her unborn child, and would make it a point for her and her partner to both engage in responsible sexual practices from that point onward, so as to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Here is where churches and schools should and could play a tremendously beneficial moral, spiritual, and educational role in the initial shaping of sexual attitudes, we Progressives believe.

By and large, we share the Libertarian belief that the state should stay out of people's bedrooms, and in most matters of personal behavior, and that the church should be kept separate from the state.

UP NEXT: "HOUSE REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY HALL OF FAME"