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Sunday, November 28, 2010

A PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO (Conclusion, Part 5)

I began this series over 6 months ago in an effort to spell out to conservatives why we on the left think as we do, and not as they do. This, then, is my concluding segment.

We progressives are activists and fighters. As to WHY we fight, that was spelled out brilliantly by Mycue23 in a February post on his marvelous blog Random Thoughts (http://hamsandwich66@blogspot.com/). The post, entitled "Why We Fight", is featured below. My own comments will follow.

We fight because "...in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope". We fight because senior citizens should have not have to chose between food and medicine. We fight because American Individualism is not an open invitation to social Darwinism. We fight because Gay and Lesbian are not dirty words. We fight because we believe that all men are created equal. We fight because we believe that people should be judged by the content of their character. We fight because having tens of thousands of people die each year because of a lack of affordable health care is morally unacceptable. We fight because having thousands of children go hungry in the richest nation on the planet is morally reprehensible. We fight because every child deserves access to an education that will prepare them to compete in the global economy. We fight because torture committed in our name is still torture. We fight because everyone should have the right to marry who they chose. We fight because we only have one planet. We fight because the status quo is unacceptable. We fight because a lie repeated often enough must not be permitted to become the truth. We fight because women deserve to paid the same as men. We fight because our veterans deserve to be treated with respect they have earned. We fight because the expenditure for the Iraq war could have paid for health care for every man, woman and child in the country who cannot afford it. We fight because the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We fight because the forces massed against us never take a day off. We fight because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We fight because as FDR put it, at the height of the Depression,


"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of the those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little".


That is why we fight. We fight because we must.


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Those words are as true today as when they were written back in February, 2010. The sad fact is, that while some personalities may come and go, the basic truth remains: we progressives see something that is unfair, or because we do not believe that our Founding Fathers made this country happen for the benefit of just a few, we act. That is what led the abolishionists to oppose the evils of slavery. That is what led the Pullman Strikers to riot and protest their lot in life. That is what led the New Dealers to enact the legislation they did, much of which we are benefitting from to this very day. That is what led a lonely woman to refuse to give her seat up to a white person after a long day at work. We do not enjoy the task which has been thrust upon us. We wish we could just leave things as they are. But we can't. Our very being cries out with rightful indignation when we see others attempt to exploit those around us. For we are not content to accept we have have for ourselves as enough. Rather, we won't rest until ALL are free from want, from hunger, or from unequal treatment. Ours is not to ensire a unending source of equalness between everyone, for that would inhibit individual initiative. But ours is to ensure that EVERYONE in this country has enough to be able to live their lives as they see fit. And that is not too much to ask.

Some may call us bleeding heart liberals. That is a cold-hearted way of saying to hell with everyone else - I've got mine, now you go ahead and get yours and don't bother me about it. Those are hopeless, self-centered people. Others may say we are dreamers and that such a lofty goal will never be realized. To them I say: their is no harm in trying, so why not lend a hand?


In recent decades, we have seen a disturbing trend toward the type of concentrated wealth being centered in the hands of but a few. This cannot and will not be the case forever. The forces of progress cannot be held back for more than a few years at a time. The forces of reaction (and that is exactly what our latest Tea Party phenomenon is) will be shut down altogether. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann will rightfully slide onto the slag heap of history where they belong, for they have absolutely nothing to offer the country and never will. This movement will become as irrelevant as the John Birch Society, or the Know Nothings of the 1800s were. Such is the way history disposes of such types. But until then, we progressives must fight one chunk at a time for the ground we will wim.


AND WE WILL WIN!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HAD THE FIRST THANKSGIVING BEEN THIS YEAR...


...it may not have happened at all! If the early Native Americans were to have had any of today's modern conservative Republicans in their ranks, it might have instead gone something like this:

Chief Cheney, upon seeing the colonists' first boat heading toward Plymouth Rock, would have gone into hiding. He would have directed Brave Rumsfeld to assemble a group of warriors to fling arrows and spears at the settlers once they got in range. OR, he would have had Brave Loudobbs erect a tall barrier to make it impossible to land or come ashore. OR, once these settlers DID land, he may have summoned the elders for a special tribal meeting which would have gone something like this:

CHIEF CHENEY: There are strangers among us. We must discredit them immediately!

CHIEF BOEHNER: Don't worry, sir. Brave Cantor and I are already on it!

CHIEF CHENEY: We need more than a damn parrot to stop these illegal aliens! Braves Limbaugh and Bexk, what are your suggestions?

BRAVES LIMBAUGH AND BECK (in unison): We will tell all our people how these palefaces will behead people on the beach and are coming to infect us with wild stories about global warming. We will even say they will try to force us to circumsize every male child!

CHIEF CHENEY: Aaaarrrgghh---my heart! You mustn't frighten me that way, braves! Say whatever you want to our people, though---the bigger and scarier the lie, the better! Sqauw Palin, what would YOU recommend?

SQUAW PALIN: I would say, I can see Russia from my teepee! And as soon as they touch our land, we should gather them up and put them in a stockade! Then we should feed them lots of free range, free market corn syrup and fatten them up before we scalp them!

Chief McConnell then hurriedly adds: That will take too long and eat up too much of our corn. We would have to borrow heap big amount of corn, and then we would have nothing left for future braves and squaws! Let me send smoke signal to Chief Issa, who is far off to the right!

The council of elders pauses as Chief McConnell sends and receives his messages...


CHIEF McCONNELL: Chief Issa say as soon as they land, he will surround them and tie them up. Then we will force them to answer many questions. With ongoing probe and inquiry like that, they will not have time to unload their boat and all their provisions will rot and decay. I agree with Chief Issa that this is good strategy!

CHIEF CHENEY: Excellent! With Braves Limbaugh and Beck telling tall tales about these palefaces to our people, and with Chiefs Issa and McConnell making it impossible for them to get anything done, that beach will soon be totally ours again! Begone with all of ye now! Begin with your tasks! And make sure of one important point...

THE ENTIRE GROUP: What is that, Chief Cheney?


CHIEF CHENEY: Don't ANY of you feed them even one damn thing!
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And so it might have been, had there been teabaggers and conservative Republicans among the Native American population when the first set of Pilgrims touched down at Plymouth Rock, or had the actual first Thanksgiving been THIS year instead of back in the 17th Century. Thankfully, the real Native Americans back then showed far more civility and heart than the far-right, free market reactionaries which plague this country today! These kind and benevolent people exhibited true Christianity without even knowing what Christianity is, and certainly more Christianity than the hordes of white Europeans who later descended on this continent and eventually engaged in mass genocide against these kindly and civilized indigenous peoples of North America.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I hope you will indeed be thankful for what you have, and that you will examine your consciences, remember how the actual first Thanksgiving dinner DID come about, and then ask yourself if YOUR attitude toward immigrants today is as kind as was that of the Native Americans back then!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Too Much Is NOT "Just Right"!!!

The following piece appeared in its entirety over at TomCat's brilliant blog Politics Plus (http://www.politicsplus.org/) on Saturday, November 20, 2010. As we prepare for, celebrate, and digest our Thanksgiving dinners this year, let's remember this spectacular piece and know that THIS SITUATION DOES NOT HAVE TO BE! And then, let's DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BY THROWING OUT FROM CONGRESS IN 2012 ALL THOSE TEABAGGERS AND CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS WHO SUPPORT THIS NONSENSE! The chart below shows very clearly the reason for my concern and anger. Click on it to enlarge for better viewing. Here is TomCat's post:

"BERNIE KNOWS WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT!

Bernie Sanders is the best damn Democrat that isn’t one, far better than most of those who are. He knows that Republicans govern exclusively for the benefit of criminal corporations and the richest 1%. He knows that Republicans want what Billionaires want, and he wrote a magnificent piece on that subject."



"'The billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more.

In 2007, the top 1 percent of all income earners in the United States made 23.5 percent of all income — more than the bottom 50 percent. Not enough! The percentage of income going to the top 1 percent nearly tripled since the mid-1970s. Not enough! Eighty percent of all new income earned from 1980 to 2005 has gone to the top 1 percent. Not enough! The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Not enough! The Wall Street executives with their obscene compensation packages now earn more than they did before we bailed them out. Not enough! With the middle class collapsing and the rich getting much richer, the United States now has, by far, the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country on earth. Not enough!

The very rich want more, more and more and they are prepared to dismantle the existing political and social order to get it. During the last campaign, as a result of the (Republican) Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, billionaires were able to pour hundreds of millions of dollars of secret money into the campaign — helping to elect dozens of members of Congress. Now, having made their investment, they want their congressional employees to produce.

Republicans in Congress, needless to say, are all on board. The key question is whether a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate go along to get along, or whether they draw a clear line at protecting the interests of the middle class and vulnerable populations of our country while tackling our economic and budgetary problems in earnest.

In the next month, despite all their loud rhetoric about the "deficit crisis," the Republicans want to add $700 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years by extending Bush’s tax breaks for the top 2 percent. Families who earn $1 million a year or more would receive, on average, a tax break of $100,000 a year. The Republicans also want to eliminate or significantly reduce the estate tax, which has existed since 1916. Its elimination would add, over 10 years, about $1 trillion to our national debt and all of the benefits would go to the top 0.3 percent. Over 99.7 percent of American families would not gain a nickel. The Walton family of WalMart would receive an estimated tax break of more than $30 billion by repealing the estate tax.

That’s just the start.

The billionaires and their supporters in Congress are hell-bent on taking us back to the 1920s, and eliminating all traces of social legislation designed to protect working families, the elderly, children and the disabled. No "social contract" for them. They want it all.

They want to privatize or dismantle Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and let the elderly, the sick and the poor fend for themselves.

They want to expand our disastrous trade policies so that corporations can continue throwing American workers out on the street as they outsource jobs to China and other low-wage countries. Some also want to eliminate the minimum wage so that American workers can have the "freedom" to work for $3.00 an hour.

They want to eliminate or cut severely th.e U.S. Department of Education, making it harder for working class kids to get a decent education, childcare or the help they need to go to college.

They want to rescind the very modest financial reform bill passed last year so that the crooks on Wall Street can continue to engage in all of the reckless behavior that has been so devastating to our economy.

They want to curtail the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy so that Exxon-Mobil can remain the most profitable corporation in world history, while oil and coal companies continue to pollute our air and water.

They want to make sure that billionaire hedge fund managers pay a lower federal tax rate than middle-class teachers, nurses, firefighters, and police officers by maintaining a loophole in the tax code known as "carried interest"…'" [emphasis added]

"Inserted from

'This is what everyone who voted Republican, everyone who cast protest votes out of anger, and worst of all, everyone who did not vote elected earlier this month. I wonder if they have buyers’ remorse yet. They will. Between now and 2013, Democrats in the Senate and the Obama administration need to hold the line against these Republican threats to our nation. I hope they have the courage needed.'"

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Ladies and gentlemen, these vast extremes in wealth in this country are IMMORAL, UNETHICAL, and totally UNNECESSARY! They are completely indefensible! This is not the healthy end result of a thriving, "free enterprise" system. Instead, it is EXPLOITATION, HOARDING, and THIEVERY being practiced every single day by the wealthiest 1% who already own and control far too much of the economy. There is NO NEED for ANY want or hunger within our borders. This is caused and nurtured by the wealthiest 1% of our people. It is an economic dictatorship by the rich against the poor and working people!

Last Friday night, MSNBC-TV's Keith Olbermann featured a segment on how Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer has cut off funding for a state program that helps fund, among other things, organ transplants for chronically-ill citizens who cannot afford to pay for them. As a result, 98 people in that sorry state will DIE an unnecessarily early death. Meanwhile, billionaires and huge corporations often pay little or nothing in taxes and they and their Republican allies in Congress are pressing for extended tax cuts for the wealthy! These people already have far more money than they could ever hope to spend, and yet they sit idly by, letting fellow citizens suffer, starve, and die. This is CRIMINAL! And it is most definitely a case of too much is NOT "just right"!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

LIBERAL? Or PROGRESSIVE?? What Are YOU???

My good friend Mycue23 over at Random Thoughts (http://www.hamsandwich66.blogspot.com) has just posted a very thoughtful and well-reasoned (as always) article proudly proclaiming himself to be a "liberal", and that is critical of "progressives" whom he views as being overly critical of President Obama, and are seemily ready and willing to jump ship on him.

To be sure, the President has disappointed many of us who took him at his word in 2008 and believed that Gitmo would have been closed down by now, that he would have pushed more strongly for and implemented a single-payer, public option for health care, or that numerous other things he promised but has not yet delivered on would have come to fruition. Like Mycue23 and, I suspect, many of the rest of you regular readers, the idea of dumping the President for a more leftist and less centrist candidate, and splitting his party and losing the 2012 election to a reactionary, blabbering fool like Sarah Palin or a far-right social conservative like Mike Huckabee, or even to a corporatist plutocrat like Mitt Romney in the process, is simply NOT AN OPTION. So, unhappy though we may be with the status quo, we are indeed stuck with Obama, as we know the alternative is far, FAR worse!

But Mycue23's impassioned stance (read his post; it's great!) got me to thinking: am I a Liberal? Or a Progressive?

Such labels are always murky and often inaccurate descriptions of one's political beliefs. For example, today's Tea Party and far-right Republicans refer to themselves as "conservatives" but that is not at all accurate. They are instead backward-looking reactionaries. And when these poor unfortunate souls foam at the mouth and deride "liberals", I strongly suspect what they are really complaining about are "progressives." Let me explain...

I went to Google.com and entered "the difference between liberal and progressive" for some clarification. I was very pleased to find a number of articles listed which may help clear this mystery up for you as well. The first was a gem by David Sirota which appeared in the 10/19/06 Huffington Post. Mr. Sirota writes:

"Liberals...are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A "progressive" are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules...a liberal solution to some of our current problems with high energy costs would be to increase funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A more "progressive" solution would be to increase LIHEAP but also crack down on price gouging and pass laws better-regulating the oil industry's profiteering and market manipulation tactics. A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; A progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations and bulk purchasing in order to force down the actual cost of medicine in America (much of which was originally developed with taxpayer R&D money).

Let's be clear - most progressives are also liberals, and liberal goals in better funding America's social safety net are noble and critical. It's the other direction that's the problem. Many of today's liberals are not fully comfortable with progressivism as defined in these terms. Many of today's Democratic politicians, for instance, are simply not comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions (many of whom fund their campaigns) - institutions that regularly take a confrontational posture towards America's middle-class..."


Mr. Shirota also warns us that "Paying off corporations to do what they already should be doing sets a dangerous precedent - it sends a message to Big Business that they can leverage their irresponsible behavior into government handouts..."


Another illuminating insight came from a 01/05/08 post on the blog Corrente:

"If you think every American should be guaranteed health insurance, you're a liberal; if you're trying to make universal health care happen, you're a progressive...[liberals are] people who want things like universal healthcare, out of Iraq, privacy rights, help for the homeless, good public schools, justice, equality, etc... but accept the excuses made by politicians and the media for why these things are not possible.

Progressives, on the other hand, know that progressive policy is possible (and necessary, real soon) and want to fight whatever stands in the way of making it happen."



Yet another fascinating piece comes from a listing called The Progressive Review, but no date is listed:

"As Progressives learned from the last year, getting Democrats elected does not automatically translate into progressive policy. The Democratic controlled congress has failed to promote or even defend Progressive values on pretty much every issue that has come up, from Iraq to FISA...

Progressives also learned from the last 8 years that progressive policy has NO chance if the Republicans are in charge...

Therefore:

Democratic Party (or non-Republican) control of government is a necessary but not sufficient condition to bring about progressive policy...

This explains my and possibly others' concerns about efforts at bipartisanship and triangulation by Democrats running for office...

Since the liberal prime directive is to win elections, they argue that compromises must be made in terms of policy, because policy is secondary...

What we need is both electoral success and the successful promotion of progressive policy. These thing have to happen simultaneously. Here is a picture to help understand this concept...

Progressives would argue that policy is everything: what is the point if a candidate wins the election but does not enact progressive legislation?...

Also, Progressives would argue that progressive policies are popular, so why would candidates make compromises with conservative policy in order to gain popularity?...

Progressives, as liberals did before Reagan, emphasize doing the most for the most – which is how we got socio-economic programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and a minimum wage. Today’s liberals favor expanding health insurance company profits over expanding Medicare and strongly support Democratic presidents who undermine the very programs that earlier liberals created such as social welfare and Social Security...

Progressives don’t think the commerce clause of the Constitution should be used just because you feel like doing something, such as avoiding single payer health insurance. There is a huge difference between using the commerce clause to guarantee human rights and using it to subsidize health insurance companies...

Progressives try to convince people with whom they disagree, not just scold them...

Progressive oppose the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq; liberals like them as long as a Democratic president is running them...

Progressives worry about locked doors, liberals about glass ceilings, which is why liberals thought Obama's election would create a post-racial society.Too many liberals are infatuated with symbolism such as electing a black president, while ignoring the real problems most minorities face in everything from the job market to dealing with the law...

Liberals love Clinton and Obama while despising the Bushes who preceded them. They don’t seem to notice that our government continued to move to the right under both Democrats and that neither repealed any significant policies of their GOP predecessors....

Progressives don't think bailing out banks is an economic stimulus, but that helping to create jobs and stop foreclosures is...

Progressives are not afraid of criticizing Israel for its abusive treatment of Palestine. Liberals either support Israel's criminal actions or are afraid of being called anti-Semites so don't say anything."


and, most importantly,

"Progressives have new ideas; liberals come up with new compromises with the right."

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I have always viewed the government as a buffer against the overreach of concentrated capital, much as the late great progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt did. For that reason, I strongly support the notion of government regulating corporations and big business to prevent excesses which may harm the public, and I do NOT in the least view the government as an oppressor the way the currently very misguided reactionaries do.


I have always viewed the government as a great force to implement good policy for the betterment of all the people on an individual basis, just as Franklin D. Roosevelt did. That is why I strongly support federal programs like Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid. I do NOT believe that "profit motive" necessarily ensures efficiency or success in human endeavors. In some cases, exactly the opposite situation occurs. And I do NOT believe in the federal government providing routine subsidies to huge concerns like oil companies or the insurance, banking, or pharmaceutical companies who in turn take this money and then end up using it against the people at large for the profit and benefit of only a few!

Given all that which has been presented above, I would characterize myself as a PROGRESSIVE, albeit with a few liberal tendencies. After reading this post, I would guess that perhaps Mycue23 and maybe some others of you out there may wish to reclassify yourselves, but maybe not. It is entirely your choice, and I respect that completely. As by now all of you have ascertained, one thing is for certain, though: I am most certainly NOT a "conservative" or a "reactionary!"

I have always viewed liberals and progressives not as being enemies or opposites, but as being very similar and inter-connected, yet distinct. Just as there are heads and tails on a particular coin, in the end, it is still much the same coin, fused together to achieve the same purpose. I think it is important for us on the left to ALWAYS remember that!


So how about YOU, readers? Are you now more confused than ever? Or are you LIBERAL? Or PROGRESSIVE?? What Are YOU???

Thursday, November 11, 2010

VOTERS' REMORSE (Part II in a series)

Here is the second installment of my series illustrating why those who voted for Tea Party and conservative Republican candidates to control Congress will soon be soon be suffering from voter's remorse. My methodology is simple: I list all newly-elected members of Congress, including Senators, state by state and district by district. Then I list the sources of their campaign funds (the special interest groups and industries they will be beholden to). Those who naively thought they were electing people more like themselves or who understood and shared their values will soon find out otherwise. For this new group of Teapublicans was heavily funded and backed by big banks and big corporations, and is not composed of everyday working people struggling economically, but is rather made up largely of white, upper income,, white collar types whose main agenda will be to serve the interests of big money. For none of these elected are, or really understand or care about the wants and needs of everyday working citizens. None were bakers, cooks, waiter/waitresses, secretaries, cashiers, warehousepersons, assembly line workers, mechanics, truckers, hairdressers, retail clerks, plumbers, carpenters, or electricians. As such, none will do much to create jobs, improve education, or build and repair infrastructure. Instead, they will be pushing for extended tax cuts for the very wealthy and deregulation of business, neither of which created jobs and both of which have contributed to our deficit and the Great Recession we currently are suffering.

My list includes only newly-elected members. For a list of the other existing members, scroll back to my six-part, May 2009 series called Time for REAL Representation! It provides a comprehensive listing.

KEY: D=Democrat; I= Independent; R=Republican; S=Senator; A=Attorney; P=Politician.

CALIFORNIA
19. Jeff Denham R Small business owner received funds from conservative PACs, coop and food processors, gambling casinos, and law firms.
33.. Karen Bass D Physician's assistant, Teacher, P got funds from Time Warner, FedEx Corp., health professionals, the entertainment industry,law firms, real estate firms.

COLORADO
3. Scott Tipton R Small business owner funding supplied by builders and contractors, bankers' PACs, conservative PACs. Long time conservative supporter of Reagan and Bush-era economics.
4. Cory Gardner R A, small business owner was endorsed by anti-immigration fanatic Tom Tancredo. Received funding frm oil and gas companies, lawyers and law firms, conservative PACs, and real estate firms.

CONNECTICUT
S. Michael Blumenthal D A Received money from lawyers and law firms, securities and investment firms, real estate firms, Democratic PACs. Could either emerge as a blue dog, or possibly a strong consumer advocate, as he has big money behind him but also has a track record of suing huge corporations like Microsoft and Countrywide Insurance. Watch and see...

DELAWARE
At-large. John C. Carney, Jr. D P received money from lawyers and law firms, Democratic PACs, building trade unions, health professionals.
S. Chris Coons D A A former Republican, he switched parties in the mid-1980s. May end up as another blue dog. He got funding from Democratic PACs, lawyers and law firms, industrial unions. Watch and see with this one too...

FLORIDA
2. Steve Southerland R Mortician Received funds from health professionals, general contractors, and funeral homes. Endorsed by Eric Casntor of VA.
5. Richard Nugent R Law enforcement Received money from conservative PACs, real estate firms, Publix Supermarkets. Endorsed by Mike Huckabee of OK.
Daniel Webster R Air conditioning contractor Got funding from law firms, conservative PACs (including Americans for Prosperity), real estate firms, and U.S. Solutions, Inc., a company providing foreign call centers for U.S. companies. A proponent of home schooling who is endorsed by Jeb Bush.
12. Dennis Ross R A Got funds from conservative Republican PACs, insurance companies, credit union PACs, health professionals, and Publix Supermarkets.
17. Frederica Wilson D School Principal Received funding from lawyers and law firms, public school unions, American Crystal Sugar. 36% of campaign self-financed.
22. Allen B. West R U.S. Army, High School Teacher Received much funding from Securities and Investment firms, Misc. finance (including Bank of America), conservative PACs, real estate firms. Spoke at the 2010 CPAC conference; has hired a talk show host (who stated illegal immigrants should be hanged) as his chief of staff; and is endorsed by Sarah Palin. Keep your eyes on this wacko.
24. Sandy Adams R Law enforcement Was funded by lawyers and law firms, lobbyists, health professionals, the AMA, and Publix Supermarkets.
25. David Rivera R College Professor Funded by health professionals, conservative PACs, lawyers and law firms, and lobbyists.
S. Marco Rubio R A An early Tea Party darling, he has received huge amounts of money from conservative PACs, Club for Growth, Koch industries, securities and investment firms, health professionals. Supported by all the big corporate money a person could ask for.

GEORGIA
7. Rob Woodall R A, P A POLITICAL INSIDER who served as Chief of Staff for his predecessor, John Linder. Heavily funded by health professionals (including the American Dental Association), conservative PACs, credit union PACs.
8. Austin Scott R Insurance Received funding from health professionals, conservative PACs, law firms. His father was an orthopedic surgeon, and he pressured the Georgia Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the recently-passed health care reform bill. Guess which industries he WON'T be favoring regulation of?

HAWAII
No change.

IDAHO
1. Raul Labrador R A Received a nice chunk from conservative PACs, real estate firms, and misc. finance firms.
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When I do my next post in this series, it will feature the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Be there or be square!

Monday, November 8, 2010

VOTERS' REMORSE (Part I in a series)

BULLETIN! For those who may yet be unaware, our effort to get commentator Keith Olbermann reinstated on his MSNBC-TV show has been SUCCESSFUL! Many thanks to all of you who protested his suspension directly to that network. It just goes to show that taking collective action can and DOES pay off!


In May of 2009, I began a six-part series entitled Time For REAL Represntation! I featured it in posts dated May 4, 6, 8, 16, 19 and 30, respectively. In it, I listed the prior backgrounds and occupations of every single congressperson from every single district of every single state plus every single Senator. I did this to demonstrate conclusively that the reason Congress is so out of touch with the wants and needs of the majority of the population (who are average, everyday, hard-working Americans), and why it passses legislation often of little benefit to that majority (and instead beneficial only to big business, big money, and special interests) is due to the fact that we do not send those with average, everyday backgrounds or occupations TO Congress. Indeed, my findings indicated that 37.24% of those in Congress were or had been attorneys; 5.21% had been in banking, securities, or investments; 3.91% had been realtors; 3.72% had been farmers or ranchers; another 3.72% had been college professors; 3.54% had been small business owners; and 3.2% had been physicians or surgeons. Of the remaining roughly 40%, virtually NONE had come from occupations paying below our national median income, and the overwhelming majority came from white collar backgrounds. There were (and still are) no cooks, waiters/waitresses, tailors, secretaries, cashiers, warehousepersons, assembly-line workers, truckers, bakers, carpenters, hairdressers, retail stockers or clerks, or any other types of workers earning median or lower incomes.

Naive Tea Party supporters and those who voted enthusiastically (or even reluctantly) for conservative Republicans may have been overjoyed at the outcome of last week's midterm elections.But I predict that their elation may very soon turn into voters' remorse. They may have thought they were electing fresh new, more-average-and-regular-type people to office, but they weren't. Instead, they were overwhelmingly sending different faces, but the same old upper-income, corporate and special interest money-backed candidates to Congress. NONE of these candidates had specific or viable plans to create good-paying jobs or improve our infrastructure; nearly ALL of them want to extend tax cuts for the very wealthy; and nearly all strongly support the very same Bush-era "free market" economic policies which caised the Great Recession we are currently suffering.

With this post, I begin a new series which will introduce to you these new members of Congress who will begin their terms starting January 3, 2011. I will again do this state by state, and district by district. This listing will only feature NEW members; incumbents who were re-elected will not appear here. I will again list the congressional district number, followed by the elected person's name, party, and previous occupation. But this time, I will also give, in most cases, an accounting of where a large chunk of their campaign money came from (which will indicate precisely whom they are actually beholden to).

KEY: D=Democrat; I=Independent; R=Republican; S=Senator; A=Attorney; P=Politician.

ALABAMA
2. Martha Roby R A much money received from conservative PACs, health professionals, and real estate associations.
5. Mo Brooks R A much money from health professionals, conservative PACs, lawyers and law firms.
7. Terri Sewell D A much money from law firms, securities and investment firms. 1st black women ever elected to Congress from Alabama.

ALASKA
no changes

ARIZONA
1. Paul Gosar R Dentist big funding from fellow dentists and health professional PACS as well as conservative PACs. Strongly opposes the Affoedable Health Care for America Act and will vote for its repeal. Strong Tea Party support.
3. Ben Quayle R A son of former Vice President and doofus Dan Quayle (need I say more?) and was heavily funded by securities, investment, and misc. finance firms. Big Tea Party favorite.
5. David Schweikert R Real estate broker self-funded 23% of his campaign, but also got large donations from food processing/sales companies, health professionals, and the real estate industry. A Tea Party favorite who strongly supports cuts in education, health, and transportation.

ARKANSAS
2. Timothy Griffin R A A POLITICAL INSIDER who was a former aide to Karl Rove in the Bush White House from 2005-2006. A big chunk of his money came from conservative PACs (with indirect Chamber of Commerce funding), health professionals, the oil and gas industry, and securities and invesment firms.
S. John Boozma R Optometrist LONGTIME CONGRESSMAN AND POLITICAL INSIDER. Very well funded from banks and securities and investment firms, Wal Mart, health professionals, and conservative PACs. LOTS of big money behind THIS guy, teabaggers!
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In my next installment for this series, I will more or less be covering new members of Congress from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, and Idaho. Be on the lookout for it!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

REINSTATE KEITH OLBERMANN NOW!!!


On Friday, MSNBC-TV President Phil Griffin stated that popular prime time TV news commentator KEITH OLBERMANN was being put on immediate indefinite suspension without pay for having made monetary political contributions to three separate Democratic Party candidates in the recent midterm elections. This action was taken because Olbermann had made these donations without having first secured permission from Griffin. According to MSNBC and NBC network policy, making such contributions without first seeking permission from the president of the network is a violation of that policy.

As a progressive who places high value in free speech and individual participation in our political system, I find Griffin's policy and action to be an egregiously offensive and un-American violation of Keith Olbermann's basic civil rights! As such, I am calling on you and all other fair-minded individuals to barrage Phil Griffin and Jeff Zucker, the CEO of his parent company, NBC-TV, with phone calls, faxes, cards, and/or letters protesting this dastardly policy and unnecessarily extreme action. Further, I ask you to join me in a BOYCOTT of these two networks along the lines I describe in a protest statement/letter I urge you to make/send found below.

The addresses and phone numbers for both of these men are listed here, followed by what I recommend your statement or letter should contain:

Phil Griffin
President, MSNBC
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, New Jersey 07094-2419
Phone: 201-583-5000
Fax: 201-583-5819

Jeff Zucker
CEO & President of NBC Universal, General Electric
3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, Connecticut 06828-0001
Phone: 203-373-2211
Fax: 203-373-3131




Dear Messrs. Griffin and Zucker:

I am writing (calling) to let you know I neither agree with nor approve of your policy banning television hosts for your networks from making donations to political candidates without first securing YOUR permission to do so!

I am voicing my tremendous displeasure with your policy and the fact that it has resulted in the indefinite suspension without pay for Keith Olbermann. I strongly urge you to REINSTATE KEITH OLBERMANN WITH FULL BACK PAY IMMEDIATELY AND END THIS VERY UN-AMERICAN POLICY AT ONCE!

This communication is to inform you that I am BOYCOTTING Morning Joe, The Daily Rundown, Jansing & Co., Andrea Mitchell Reports, MSNBC News Live, News Nation, Hardball with Chris Matthews, MEET THE PRESS, any show or substitute host you place in Keith Olbermann's M-F 8 PM Eastern time slot, as well as numerous other NBC and MSNBC shows, until you end this ridiculously restrictive policy and REINSTATE KEITH OLBERMANN WITH FULL BACK PAY! Until such action is taken, I will tune in to CNN, PBS or other cable or network programming instead of MSNBC and NBC. To show you I mean business, Messrs. Griffin and Zucker, I am not only urging all of my friends and relatives to follow this boycott, too, but I am also forwarding a copy of this letter to several of your prominent sponsors as well. Perhaps once GEICO, Progressive Insurance, CISCO, Bank of America, VISA, Joseph A. Bank, Travelers Insurance, Vonage, Gentlemen's Warehouse, and a few more of your advertisers find out that their ads aren't being watched on your networks, maybe THEN you will get the message and honor this demand!

I base my decision to engage in this boycott on the following considerations:

1). Your policy is a fundamental violation of your employees' civil rights and directly suppresses the exercise of their right to free speech.

2). Your competitor, Fox News, allows their employees to not only make political contributions themselves, but also permitss them to openly advocate the election of specific conservative and Republican candidates by name. In addition to that, they even allow said candidates to solicit contributions ON THE AIR!

3). Mr. Olbermann made his contributions privately, without fanfare, and in no way publicly tied them to your networks.

4). Mr. Olbermann has consistently provided intelligent and informative programming, and has engaged in numerous admirable relief efforts, notably Haiti earthquake relief and the setting up of free clinics across the country for uninsured and poverty-stricken individuals in need of health care. As such, he does not deserve the shoddy treatment you have subjected him to!

5). It was Mr. Olbermann's efforts, far more so than any efforts undertaken by either of you, which have propelled MSNBC beyond CNN into the second strongest prime time ratings for a cable news network. Such an accomplishment should be lauded and rewarded rather than punished for a mere technical violation!

Catch my drift? REINSTATE KEITH OLBERMANN NOW, or the boycott will begin!

MOST sincerely,

(your name and city and state)

cc:
GEICO Insurance
Vonage
CISCO
Progressive Insurance
Jseph A. Bank
Bank of America
Travelers Insurance
VISA

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Regardless of whether this was merely the result of a personality conflict between Keith Olbermann and Phil Griffin, or a minor technical violation of an unreasonable and unjust corporate policy, the suspension without pay action is unjust and way over the top. As such, we must take strong action against it and voice our disapproval. For, in reality, this is just another in a long line of examples of the exercising of executive arrogance and of conservative corporate forces to discredit and silence prominent liberal and progressive spokespersons.

That is why I am urging you and others you know to express your strong opposition to this action TODAY and to join me in making these contacts, boycotting these network shows, and forcefully making the demand: REINSTATE KEITH OLBERMANN NOW!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

VOICES FROM HISTORY

My posts in recent months have been very deep, dark, and intense due to the midterm elections. I thought I would lighten it up a bit today and do one that should prove to be FUN for all of you for a change. It will require a little bit of effort from you, but I'm sure you will find it very enjoyable, as I did.

But first, I need to reveal something about myself to you:


As of this writing, we have had 44 Presidents in our nation's history, and I HAVE HEARD THE ACTUAL SPEAKING VOICES OF EXACTLY HALF OF THEM!


No, I'm not lying; I'm not nuts; I'm not special; I don't have a time machine. But it's true: I have heard the actual real, live speaking voices of 22 of our Presidents, and so can you.

Some time ago, I was on a hunt to find the earliest color photographs of our former Presidents. I knew experimental color photography had been around since the latter 1800s, and I was hoping to see an actual color photo of someone like Chester A. Arthur, or Grover Cleveland, or William McKinley. But instead I stumbled on something FAR more meaningful and important: sound recordings of the speaking voices of former Presidents, dating from the 1880s all the way up to the advent of motion pictures with sound in 1927!

For some real fun, here's all you have to do: Go to google.com, or, even better yet, YouTube.com, and key in the President's name whose voice you want to hear followed by the words "voice recording." VOILA! A number of selections you can choose for each President you key in will come up, and you'll be on your way to an entertaining hour or so of enjoyment! Here is a listing of Presidents prior to the talking-pictures age for you to check out and listen to:

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Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President (1889-1893), Republican
A mere 24 years after the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison was able to make a sound recording of President-elect Harrison speaking, on January 20, 1889 - an actual President's voice from a full 121 years ago! This is the oldest sound recording of a U. S. President in existence. CHECK IT OUT!


Grover Cleveland, 22nd AND 24th President (1885-1889) AND (1893-1897), Democrat
The first Democrat elected President since before the Civil War (and the last one until Woodrow Wilson a decade and a half later), and the only President ever elected to two separate, non-consecutive terms, can be heard as he campaigns for that second term from an 1892 recording.


William McKinley, 25th President (1897-1901), Republican
Hear candidate McKinley, very aristocratic and eloquent, as he campaigns from his front porch in Ohio in 1896 for his first term. He won election that fall and successfully guided us through the Spanish-American War in 1898, only to be re-elected, but then assassinated only three years later.


Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President (1901-1909), Republican
Listen to this articulate and aristocratic-sounding trustbuster as he speaks in 1912, running again unsuccessfully for President after having had four years off. (His entry into the race created a split among Republicans which enabled Woodrow Wilson to become the first Democratic President in 16 years).


William Howard Taft, 27th President (1909-1913), Republican
Hear the very last progressive Republican President, and the only President ever to subsequently serve on the Supreme Court, giving a very articulate and eloquent anti-war speech in 1909!



Woodrow Wilson, 28th President (1913-1921), Democrat
Hear the President who guided us through World War I, who created the Federal Reserve Board, and the man who was President when our modern income tax came into being. as he campaigns in 1912 for his first term!



Warren G. Harding, 29th President (1921-1923), Republican
Hear him campaigning for the presidency in 1920. You'll soon hear he's every bit as dull and uninspiring as a conservative Republican can be. Here's your cure for insomnia, folks!


Calvin Coolidge, 30th President (1923-1929), Republican
Hear this tight-lipped, very conservative Republican with the nerdy voice speaking early in his presidency, in 1924. His message sounds as tired then as it does today, and provides proof that our current Tea Party and conservative politicians are peddling the very same unoriginal philosophy Coolidge was back then!





Herbert Hoover, 31st President (1929-1933), Republican
I saw an actual film clip with sound of him campaigning for his first term in 1928. VERY midwestern-sounding! Check it out for yourself and hear what I mean!




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When we look at photos of these old Presidents, it is easy for us to think of them as stodgy, lifeless, cold statues with no human warmth or feel. But when we actually hear them speak, their expression, tonality, and even their individual accents bring them to life as no photo or old film clip can! I have given all of you this little portal of time to explore. I hope each of you will step through it and listen to each of these men speak. You will be astounded at the lack of hyperbole, the civility, and the intelligent and reasonable tone of voice each uses when speaking, especially when you contrast them with modern political speakers like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or Mitt Romney. I hope each of you will undertake this listening endeavor and then give me YOUR impressions of what you have found! ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

GOVERNMENT

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will live as one."
- John Lennon -


In the wake of yesterday's significant election results, over the next day or two there will be an overabundance of interpreters and commentators. I will not be one of them. I will reserve making specific comment for a few days, until I have had time to fully absorb and ponder all that has just transpired.

Meanwhile, I will simply offer my initial gut reaction in verse. This is a piece inspired by, patterned after, and to which I offer my humble apologies: John Lennon's 1970 effort that he called "God." Like that effort of 40 years ago, it is a wistful and angry observation and accounting of a personal set of beliefs. I call it "Government."

GOVERNMENT

Government is a concept
by which we mete out and measure our pain.

I'll say it again:

Government's a concept
by which we mete out and measure our pain.

I don't believe in Wall Street.
I don't believe in Nafta.
I don't believe in Bank of America.
I don't believe in Gates.
I don't believe in Friedman.
I don't believe in Pfizer.
I don't believe in Cargill.
I don't believe in WellPoint.
I don't believe in Adam Smith.
I don't believe in Romney.
I don't believe in Bernanke.
I don't believe in Lenin.
I don't believe in the Pentagon.
I don't believe in Reagan.
I don't believe in Palin.

I just believe in me;
you and me,
and that's reality.

The dream is over -
lasted 200 years plus.
I was a dreamer,
but now I've woken up.
I was an Obamaist,
but now I'm a dissident.

And so, dear friends,
we'll just have to carry on.
The dream is over...


The dream ISN'T really over, folks. At the moment, it just seems that way. But like the dream for freedom from tyranny Russian dissidents Alexander Solzhenitzen and Andrei Sakharov once shared, the dream for economic justice the Pullman strikers of 1894 and Cesar Chavez and migrant workers of the 1960s shared, and the dream for individual dignity and civil rights that 1960s activists Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King shared, we current progressives, too, must lick our wounds and carry on. Like them, we must unceasingly continue to battle for a government truly of, for, and by the people rather than one strictly for the benefit of repressive social conservatives and the wealthy. Like them, we must NEVER lose hope or abandon our dream and continue to fight for social and economic fairness and justice. And, like pre-Civil War slaves and all of those already mentioned, with each scourage inflicted on us we must strengthen our resolve and determination to overcome temporary setbacks and continue to press strongly for the sensibility and justice which MUST and eventually WILL prevail!