Tuesday, September 30, 2008

abusive debt collection gets the boot in new york

Governor Paterson Signs Landmark Legislation that Protects Elderly, Disabled, Veteran, and Lower Income New Yorkers From Abusive Debt Collection

ALBANY, N.Y., Sept 29, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Exempt Income Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Dale M. Volker (Depew) and Assembly woman Helene E. Weinstein (Brooklyn), was signed into law by Governor Paterson on Friday, September 26, 2008. The law will shield elderly, disabled, veteran, and lower income New Yorkers from unlawful practices by debt collectors and goes into effect January 1, 2009.
New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL), a coalition of 141 non-profit organizations from across the state, lauded Governor Paterson for signing the bill. "NYRL applauds the Governor and the State Legislature for providing vital protections to New Yorkers who rely on subsistence income," said Claudia Wilner, Senior Staff Attorney at the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP).

The new law closes a loophole that has allowed debt collectors and credit card companies to use "restraining notices" to freeze the bank accounts of New Yorkers who receive income that is exempt from debt collection under federal and state law, such as Social Security, veterans benefits, disability, and pension. The law ensures the first $2,500 in an account which contains directly deposited exempt income cannot be restrained.

"This law is a victory for older New Yorkers, veterans, and all low-income consumers who are experiencing difficult times in our sagging economy," said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. "Governor Paterson, Senator Volker, and Assemblywoman Weinstein are to be commended for their work to help those New Yorkers most in need."

"Advocates throughout the state have been overwhelmed by cases of lower income New Yorkers facing severe problems because their bank accounts have been frozen. We praise the State for passing this critical new law, one of the strongest in the nation," said Kirsten Keefe, Staff Attorney at the Empire Justice Center.

Lawyers who represent individuals when their accounts are frozen -- from agencies such as the Legal Aid Society in Queens, MFY Legal Services, South Brooklyn Legal Services, the Elder Law Clinic at St. John's University School of Law, District Council 37, and Urban Justice Center -- were thrilled with the news. "The law creates a process that strikes a fair balance between the rights of creditors and debtors," said Gina Calabrese, a Professor of Clinical Education and Associate Director of St. John's Elder Law Clinic.

Said Carolyn E. Coffey, a Staff Attorney with MFY Legal Services, "In these tough economic times, it is heartening that New York lawmakers have come together to enact a law that will protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers from unscrupulous debt collectors."


more behind the scene news from carolyn, a SG friend, who helped make this law happen ... congrats carolyn!

I have been working on legislation for the past year and a half to close a loophole in New York law that enables debt collectors to seize elderly and disabled people's exempt income (i.e., social security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, veterans' benefits) in their bank accounts. The practice is to freeze a person's bank account and then demand payment, even after the collector is informed that the account contains money that is not subject to collection. If they refuse to release it (which is illegal), the person is forced to go to court and navigate the judicial system on their own, which many people simply cannot do. Because so many people who receive benefits do so electronically through direct deposit, it is very simple for the banks to look into someone account before freezing it and see that the contents are clearly exempt, but they take the position that they have to freeze the account otherwise they will be violating a court order. Of course the banks also get to charge the consumer $125 restraining fee, which they take right out of the account. This is the number one problem we get calls about on our consumer rights project hotline at MFY Legal Services.

So I, along with some other consumer advocates from other organizations, drafted legislation to change New York's law regarding this practice. The new law automatically protects $2500 in a person's account that contains clearly exempt direct deposit (which is more than most of our clients ever have) and protects $1716 in other accounts. It also simplifies the procedure for claiming that all the money in an account above those amounts is exempt from collection and prohibits the banks from charging fees when the restraint is deemed void. It was passed in the assembly last year but died in the senate. So this year we lobbied extensively--among other things, I went out to Long Island and to Albany to meet with legislative aides and explain the bill, and we were able after much negotiating to get the banks on board with the proposal. It passed unanimously in the senate and assembly in June, and we had been waiting for Governor Paterson to sign it into law, which we thought would be a no-brainer. When it finally came to his desk, however, a bunch of state agencies who collect debts (like child support and unpaid tickets) came forward screaming that they would be hindered in their collection practices by the bill (which they wouldn't be) and the governor started making noises that he planned to veto the bill. So I went to Albany last week and met with his staffers in an attempt to work out a solution, and the members of our mini-coalition reached out to all those involved, and in the end, we were able to resolve the problem by exempting the state agencies. So the governor signed the bill, and it will go into effect January 1, 2009.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cafferty Goes off on Palin

Jack Cafferty goes off on Governor Palin the way many of us here have wanted to do and have done. This is how I feel about Governor Palin right now. I watch these tapes of interviews (two now) and start to feel bad for her. Because this is not about Sarah Palin, it is about John McCain. His choice. She is a small-town Governor who won a big Governor seat 20 months ago. She has not studied these issues at all, she has no idea about them. It is completely obvious. It doesn't make her bad, it makes her normal, but we are not looking for normal in the White House, especially after these years. We need competence and preparation of which she seems to have none.

The religious crazy shit scares me, no doubt, but that doesn't make her not fit to serve, these answers certainly do though. She has simply no idea what she is talking about.

Tropical Storm Kyle

Hurricane Kyle is threatening a family wedding this weekend. Is there any doubt that global warming is helping these hurricanes get stronger and more powerful. Granted Kyle is not yet a hurricane it is a powerful tropical storm, but I don't remember a storm threatening like this in recent memory. I mean the fucking Atlantic seaboard rarely sees any of these. This year we have had Hanna, a no-name storm that is pounding the eastern seaboard right now and Kyle moving up the coast. Crazy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

the great schlep

sarah s. supporting obama in her usual unique way...

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Washington Mutual Seized by the Feds

The largest bank failure in history occurred Thursday night as the Republican house members killed the $700 million bail out. Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night, in what is by far the largest bank failure in American history.

As the Republicans play politics and want to shock the markets back into submission with Freidmanite lassez faire capitalism the economic situation worsens. What are they thinking? It sure ain't country first.

Sarah Palin's Interview with Katie Couric

Thanks to Daily Kos and R. Thelonius for pointing this out.

Remember this?

What is the difference between above and this response? I mean seriously.

Or more appropriately Governor Palin is George Bush.

Letterman Skewers McCain for Cancelling and Suspending

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Campbell Brown Rips McCain Campaign for Sexism

Ten Reasons Why Last Night was a Great Baseball Night

10. Red Sox clinched a playoff berth into the playoffs. I don't follow like I used to and they angered me after trading Manny Ramirez in what seemed to be a revenge act. But, the Red Sox have an amazing farm system that keeps funnelling players into the majors. In last night alone five home grown players started the game and four home grown pitchers were in relief. Amazing. This brings us to #9.

9. The Dodgers won and my favorite player of all-time hit a first inning three run home run. Nomar Garciaparra. Manny Ramirez also had a hit and is on fire since being traded to the Dodgers. He is hitting almost .400 with 16 HR's. A pathetic trade really. The Dodgers are still two games up in the NL West. Go big blue.

8. Phillies lose. The Philadelphia Phillies lost 3-2 to the Braves and the Mets gain a game.

7. The Minnesota Twins win. The Twins are only one and 1/2 games down in the NL Central. Here is for small market teams making the play-offs. I am rooting for a Twins/Devil Rays AL Pennant. The Twins are a team that does this right, competing every year with out the high payroll of most contenders. The twins rank 25th in major league salary race. Only four teams have lower salaries. You can win without money in this league. Go Twins.

6. The Devil Rays sweep a double header. The Devil Rays who rank 29th in salaries have clinched a playoff spot and are all, but assured of winning the east and playing the AL Central winner. The Devil Rays have $43 million dollar pay roll which is much lower than the combined salaries of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

5. Jose Reyes three run triple for the Mets. Jose Reyes is an absolute lesson in why baseball is the greatest game on earth. He is a marvel to watch and seems to always have a big night. As Jose Reyes goes, the Mets go. He should be the MVP. The 25 year old Met had his 200th hit of the season last night. Kudos to D. Wright as well my feeling however, is that Jose is the player that the Mets could not live without.
4. Johan Santana wins for the Mets. In a do or die game, Johan was masterful throwing 125 pitches and holding off the best team in the national league while the Mets take their time to score their six runs. He is showing why they spent the money on him. This game was pennant race baseball at its best. These two teams are headed for a collision in October.

3. Prince Fielder hits a walk-off Homer in the ninth. The Brewers were losing most of the game, but came back and kept their wild card hopes alive. Fielder hit his 34th Home Run to the cheap seats in Milwaukee to keep them only one game behind the wild card leading Mets.

2. Ken Griffey, jr. moves into 5th place with his 610th Home Run. Junior is the guy we all should be parading around as the person who did it right. Never marred by any steroid stories, in fact he is so old school he hardly looks like he lifts weights. He quietly made it on to the big list now. Only Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), and Willie Mays (660) have more Home Runs than Griffey. He belongs there with these guys and hopefully he can play a few more years and climb up the list.

1. The Yankees are eliminated from playoff contention. This is the #1 story. After 14 years of buying their way into the playoffs (the period of 1995 - 2001 is excluded from this. The 1998 Yankees is still the best baseball team I have seen in my life) they come up short. After 2001 Steinbrenner said their would be changes and there were. They rid the team of O'Neil, Brosius and Tino and got the lard ass Giambi and a whole host of wasted players marring an astonishing team that will go down with the '27 Yankees as one of the ten best. This is how not to run a baseball team. They have run a franchise that was the model of all the baseball franchises and is now 0-8 this century. Sadly for them the model for franchises is now the Red Sox.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Houstonians may be Forced to Pay for Rebuilding Electric Grid

A hurricane hit the Gulf Coast. We'll just call it Hurricane Ike. You shelter in place because the city told you too. Maybe your house didn't sustain any damage...or maybe it's completely gone. You've been without electricity and water for anywhere from a day to who know's how long, 1 or 2, maybe 3 weeks. And now the electric company will most likely pass the cost of rebuilding its infrastructure on to you. Because you don't have shit else to deal with it.

This is capitalism at its worst. Hooray for deregulation of utilities. If you aren't pissed off, then you aren't paying attention...and maybe that's because you are trying to rebuild after a hurricane ripped apart your life. Nice Centerpoint, really nice.

Naomi Klein on Bill Maher Discusses the Bail Outs

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wall Street Socialism or Shock Doctrine Politics?

The worst financial crisis since the great depression and what does our government do (or is about to do)? Nationalize losses and privatize profits. At least that is the analysis from Talking Points Memo. The plan would raise the national debt and simply hand a $700 billion dollar check to Wall Street and say "please do not do this again." It is incredulous. It also gives sweeping powers to the Secretary of the Treasure and the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Outrageous.

Nancy Pelosi's response:

"Congress will respond to the financial markets crisis by taking action this week in a bipartisan manner that will protect the taxpayers’ interests. The Administration’s $700 billion proposal does not include the necessary safeguards. Democrats believe a responsible solution should include independent oversight, protections for homeowners and constraints on excessive executive compensation.

"We will not simply hand over a $700 billion blank check to Wall Street and hope for a better outcome. Democrats will act responsibly to insulate Main Street from Wall Street.

Obama has also now come out against the plan. He is about ready to release a seven point plan or so...that includes no blank checks for wall street and if we are going to help wall street we must also help the average American stay in their home.

But, the best analysis I have seen on this crisis that tells us what went wrong, what is wrong and what we need to do is by my favorite Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. He is a stalwart of the progressive movement and I have listened to him for years on the Thom Hartman program on Air America. I am re-printing it here on this blog for us all to read. Simply brilliant and actually scary if we continue on this path.

By Senator Bernie Sanders

The current financial crisis facing our country has been caused by the extreme right-wing economic policies pursued by the Bush administration. These policies, which include huge tax breaks for the rich, unfettered free trade and the wholesale deregulation of commerce, have resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy.

The middle class has really been under assault. Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.

While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s. The top 0.1 percent now earn more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president. In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers or nurses.

Now, having mismanaged the economy for eight years as well as having lied about our situation by continually insisting, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the Bush administration, six weeks before an election, wants the middle class of this country to spend many hundreds of billions on a bailout. The wealthiest people, who have benefited from Bush’s policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all. This is absurd. This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

In my view, we need to go forward in addressing this financial crisis by insisting on four basic principles:

(1) The people who can best afford to pay and the people who have benefited most from Bush’s economic policies are the people who should provide the funds for the bailout. It would be immoral to ask the middle class, the people whose standard of living has declined under Bush, to pay for this bailout while the rich, once again, avoid their responsibilities. Further, if the government is going to save companies from bankruptcy, the taxpayers of this country should be rewarded for assuming the risk by sharing in the gains that result from this government bailout.

Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should: a) Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;

b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and

c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages. Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Further, we must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing. We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry.

(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation. That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999. That means re-regulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices. That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown.

(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy. If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. We need to determine which companies fall in this category and then break them up. Right now, for example, the Bank of America, the nation’s largest depository institution, has absorbed Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage house. We should not be trying to solve the current financial crisis by creating even larger, more powerful institutions. Their failure could cause even more harm to the entire economy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Spain Our Enemy?

I have heard the euphemism an enemy of my friend is my enemy, but I have not heard the euphemism a friend of mine is my enemy if I misunderstand the interviewer's question. As Josh Marshall says McCain would rather have an international incident than admit he misunderstood. I don't five a f*** what kind of experience this guy has, I don't want him anywhere near the military. Watch below and see Spain become our enemy in the blink of an eye or that McCain thinks Spain is part of Latin America.

Stealing the Election New Jersey Style

And if we get a little lazy here thinking we can win the election because Obama is up in the polls, well think again. Along comes the Michigan GOP, the Ohio GOP, the Wisconsin GOP and voila - we have vote caging. Voter caging began just after blacks in the south finally solidified the right to vote. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 it was unheard of for black Americans to vote in the deep south. It is a shocking fact when you read this history. Martin Luther King, SCLC, SNCC and a little help from the greatest domestic policy President ever, Lyndon Johnson. Once the vote was solidified and African-Americans began, not only voting, but getting elected to office a new strategy needed to take place. It is called Voter Caging.

That new strategy began in none other than the Garden State. It began in the election of 1981 Governor Tom Kean v Jim Florio. In 1981, the Republican National Committee sent letters to predominantly black neighborhoods in New Jersey, and when 45,000 letters were returned as undeliverable, the committee compiled a challenge list to remove those voters from the rolls. The RNC sent off-duty law enforcement officials to the polls (who were heavily armed) and hung posters in heavily black neighborhoods warning that violating election laws is a crime." This brilliant strategy was used to perfection in Florida in 2000 and has become an art form by these Rethuglicans. Here is what they are doing this year.


In Ohio, in this election in seven weeks 600,000 voters have the potential to be removed from the list if they do not pay attention to their mail. Ohio election officials are sending out a mass mailer stamped "do not forward" to all registered voters today (Sept. 5) with an absentee ballot application and other important notices for Nov. 4. If this mailer is not responded to then the GOP will challenge these voters at the polls. A similar mailer went out in March and netted 600,000 undeliverable in five counties who can now have their vote thrown out voting under the wrong address. The National Voter Registration Act prohibits any state from purging names from the voting rolls within 90 days of an election.


James Carabelli, the Macomb County GOP leader said on the Michigan Messenger, an on-line publication that they will use foreclosure lists (those who have been so unfortunate to have their home foreclosed this year) to challenge voters at the polls. "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses," Mr. Carabelli was quoted as saying, according to a Sept. 10 article in the Michigan Messenger. The Obama campaign immediately filed a lawsuit, an injunction to stop these tactics.


The Wisconsin GOP official (the state attorney general) filed a lawsuit in federal court has the potential to slow down poll lines in what will most undoubtedly be the highest turnout in memory. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, filed the lawsuit Monday in Dane County Circuit Court to get ineligible voters off the rolls. It calls for a court order mandating the Government Accountability Board to cross-check voters who have registered since Jan. 1, 2006, when federal Help America Vote Act legislation required that states implement a voter database to cross-check voter registrations with Department of Transportation, criminal and death records. Criticism of the law suit say it is unnecessary and is deliberately trying to slow down the polls so people who have to work will leave and not vote.

These are the tactics we know about and that are in the public discourse. Who knows what is happening behind the closed doors of the GOP in other swing states? Similar stories have been reported in Kansas and this says nothing of the many new laws that will already disenfranchise voters which are called Voter I.D. laws that voters must show an I.D. at the polls (this is against federal law, but states are free to interpret it for themselves). I.D. laws that are supposed to stop voter fraud, but the case at the Supreme Court could not site one example of voter fraud.

The GOP and the conservative philosophy has always stood for the idea that not everyone should vote; whether you are poor, a minority, disabled, homeless, etc., they will try and stop you at the polls. That is their philosophy, make no mistake about it. If you do not agree with them they do not want you to vote. It is as simple as that. It harkens back to the deep south 1960's when black Americans were murdered and lynched over the right to vote, yet still kept on. Our vote is sacred and should never be tinkered with - ever.

A Likely Scenario (269 to 269)

All of the daily tracking polls demonstrate how the momentum of the presidential race is clearly shifting this week to Sen. Barack Obama:

Diageo/Hotline: Obama 46%, McCain 42%
Gallup: Obama 48%, McCain 44%
Research 2000: Obama 49%, McCain 43%
Rasmussen: Obama 48%, McCain 48%

New State polls from the National Journal:

Colorado: Obama 45%, McCain 44%
Florida: Obama 44%, McCain, 44%
New Mexico: Obama 49%, McCain, 42%
Ohio: McCain, 42%, Obama, 41%
Virginia: McCain, 48%, Obama, 41%

If I were judging this race right now it is still dead even. Though, Obama has clearly pulled ahead in the national polls back to where he belongs he still needs to pick off a couple of states, right? Will that be Virginia? If he does he wins. Ohio, again he wins as long as he keeps Pennsylvania. If McCain wins Florida, Virginia and Ohio then Obama needs to win New Mexico and Colorado and he wins. But, that is not an easy task, it is still elusive. In my mind New Mexico is in the bag right now, but I think Ohio has to be the task as well as keep PA and Michigan and he gets the white house.

Of course another scenario which is shocking at how easy this could happen. Scroll down and look at this. McCain wins Fl, Ohio and Virginia, Obama keeps all his battleground states including PA, MI and then picks off New Mexico and Colorado and Iowa - all very likely and keeps all of the Kerry states of Minn, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, California etc. But, McCain picks off New Hampshire which is also very close right now. The score: 269 electoral votes to 269 electoral votes. What happens? It goes to Congress and more than likely Obama wins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some Frightening Facts

One of my favorite places to encounter reality is Harper's magazine. Their Harper's Index is a monthly compendium of statistics that shed some light on the insanity that is modernity. In light of the U.S. government's continued bailouts of corporate giants, this time AIG, I would like to share a few prescient examples from September's issue of Harper's.

One word that must be on the lips of every CEO from Wall Street to Fleet Street, from the Staten Island ferry to mid-town Manhattan: regulation. The party is over, and the scum-sucking executives will fly away from this all with their hedge funds intact, their Leer jets stocked, and full of fuel, and their secretaries on board. We, the common taxpayer, will watch more of our money go to saving another predatory lender, or insurer of those lenders, in this case, get saved by the same "government intervention" that was never supposed to interfere in the miraculous work of the modern free-market economy.

And McCain has the balls to say that tax increases on the rich are not only unnecessary, but will only hurt the economy.

Here are the stats from Harper's Index:

Rank of this year’s economic crisis among the “largest financial shocks since the Great Depression,” according to the IMF: 1

Estimated number of FDIC-insured banks currently in danger of failing: 90

Number that failed during the past three years: 3

Percentage change since 2003 in the number of U.S. workers making “hardship withdrawals” from retirement accounts: +61

Death benefits that Lockheed Martin paid its current CEO in March, despite his being alive: $1,000,000

Chance that an American says his or her workplace is a “dictatorship”: 1 in 4

Corporations Over People

How does the Federal Government choose to bail out a company? Is there a criteria? Would you not expect one from say - the !%$!$# Federal Government? By providing a massive loan to American International Group on Tuesday, just two days after refusing to use public funds to save Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy, the central bank also invited tough questions on how exactly it determined whether a company was too big to fail.

Between the $29 billion the Fed pledged to swing the Bear Stearns sale to JPMorgan in March, $100 billion apiece to rescue mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, up to $300 billion for the Federal Housing Authority, Tuesday's $85 billion loan to insurer AIG and various other rescue deals and loans, taxpayers are potentially on the hook for more than $900 billion.

After saying no to Lehman brothers, The Feds said yes to AIG because of concerns that its collapse would harm thousands of companies around the world and cause chaos in the $62 trillion market for credit default swaps, where it is a big player. To be sure, the Fed attached quite a few strings to its AIG funding deal. The loan carries a high interest rate, the government can veto any dividends, and AIG is expected to sell assets over the next two years to repay its debt. Senior management will be replaced.

Does it not make you wonder what the criteria is however? Many friends have aptly criticized, that our student loans are killing us please bail us out; or my mortgage is through the roof please bail me out. Why AIG, why not Lehman brothers, why Bear Stearns and most importantly why not the average consumer who suffers personal financial ruin? Why? Why? Why? These companies pillage the consumer, make money off our money and then when they screw up we bail them out. There is something seriously wrong with the system (read what the Federal Reserve is it will scare you), but of course like everything else going on in America the government steps aside and allows corporations to control everything. That is what should end in America more than anything else, the control of corporations over our government. A new campaign slogan - people over corporations.

A New Obama Ad on the Economy

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Progressive Tax Policy of Fairness

We have heard so much about who will cut your taxes and what that means it becomes ridiculous and nonsensical and this is exactly what the Republicans and conservatives want. Because an even superficial discussion of taxes reveals the lies and deceit behind a regressive tax policy, the current tax structure we now operate in and where McCain wants to take us even deeper. See above both candidates tax plans for yourself.

A progressive tax policy (taxing the rich at a higher rate than the poor) is a moral issue. Conservatives argue that we cannot punish the rich for their business savvy and we must keep taxes low so that companies will make life better for the masses in providing jobs, etc. This is a disingenous argument on its face. It is, however a disingenous argument that has been bought by much of the American public and make it almost impossible to have a discussion about why we should tax the rich at higher rates. Here is my attempt to explain it.

First, there are two fundamental functions to our government, protection and empowerment (no doubt conservatives would argue against this, but we shall see). Protection includes the police, firefighters, emergency services, public health, the military, and so on. Empowerment includes the infrastructure needed for business and everyday life: roads, communications systems, water supplies, public education, the banking system for loans and economic stability, the SEC for the stock market, the courts for enforcing contracts, air traffic control, support for basic science, our national parks and public buildings, and more.

It is a fundamental truth that empowerment structure helps the rich far more than it helps the poor and by a larger margin as a person's income grows. The Rockridge institute and George Lakoff explain this better than I could: Ordinary people just drive on the highways; corporations send fleets of trucks. Ordinary people may get a bank loan for their mortgage; corporations borrow money to buy whole companies. Ordinary people rarely use the courts; most of the courts are used for corporate law and contract disputes. Corporations and their investors — those who have accumulated enough money beyond basic needs so they can invest — make much more use, compound use, of the empowering infrastructure provided by everybody's tax money.

The wealthy have made greater use of the common good—they have been empowered by it in creating their wealth—and thus they have a greater moral obligation to sustain it. They are merely paying their debt to society in arrears and investing in future empowerment.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates could not have made their money in another society because most do not have a banking system or a stock market where much of the money is made. Take Bill Gates for instance: The legal system protected Microsoft's intellectual property and contracts (to a fault I would argue). The tax-supported financial infrastructure enabled him to access capital markets and trade his stock in a market in which investors have confidence. He built his company with many employees educated in public schools and universities. Tax-funded research helped develop computer science and the internet. Trade laws negotiated and enforced by the government protect his ability to sell his products abroad. These are but a few of the ways in which Mr. Gates' accumulation of wealth was empowered by the common wealth and by taxation.

Protection and Empowerment are of the common good and the taxes that fund these endeavors are the common wealth. This used to be understood, but has been eroded since the New Deal and especially under Reagan. We are sold a bill of goods that the rich are being punished for their wealth when it is their debt to us so they can operate in a freer world made to help them enrich themselves. We will certainly not hear the argument phrased this way anytime soon, but here is hoping.

This same philosophy is leading to the financial meltdown on wall street. Read this article that this crisis is 28 years in the making leading back to Ronald Reagan and his deregulation policies. We deregulated and as the articles says: "The job of regulators is that when the party's in full swing, make sure the partygoers drink responsibly," she said. "Instead, they let everyone drink as much as they wanted and then handed them the car keys."

Radiohead - Ceremony

To get you moving on this Tuesday. One of the greatest songs, Ceremony, by Joy Division, then New order, and covered by one of the greatest bands of our time, Radiohead.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Fundamentals of Our Economy are Strong

The World markets have sunk, Lehman brothers claims bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch is bought by Bof A, the Dow is down 300 points, but somehow McCain says the fundamentals of our economy are strong. How are people buying this shit?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Waiting on the World to Change

I keep thinking of this song, we are all waiting on the world to change. Yet, we see how this everlasting conservative plunder of our country keeps on and if we wait - it will not change. We need to make it change and that change needs to happen now. I am so deeply troubled by the infotainment that masks for news and the distractions that masks for issues while the economy tanks, wars become common place and bigotry a weapon to wedge us. I pledge to do all I can...and stop waiting...for the world to change...

"it's hard to beat the system
when we're standing at a distance
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
now if we had the power
to bring our neighbors home from war
they would have never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on their door
and when you trust your television
what you get is what you got
cause when they own the information, oh
they can bend it all they want"

The United States Funding Opposition Groups in Bolivia?

Anyone with knowledge of the United States history in South America, then this is a rhetorical question, understood. But, new information is arising. After the meteoric rise to power by Evo Morales, the indigenous leader of Bolivia, the United States seems to be doing all it can to rid the continent of anyone who seeks to put the power in the hands of the people. Morales has taken over the hydrocarbon industry in Bolivia and kicked out corporations that had hijacked the natural resources of the land. And Morales has added (due to this nationalization) 1.5 billion to the national treasury). All money in the hands of the government instead of in the hands of corporations.

What is the US response? Or more aptly, the question should be when Morales was elected, what did the US begin planning? His ouster, no doubt. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) called on the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other agencies to release information detailing whom it is funding in Bolivia - where violent right-wing opposition groups have wreaked havoc this week in a series of shootings, beatings, ransacking of offices, and sabotage of a natural gas pipeline - as well as in other Latin American countries including Venezuela. Morales has blamed the U.S. for funding these opposition groups and evidence suggests he is right. CEPR is asking the U.S. to come clean. But, they won't.

In the midst of the violence and property destruction, Bolivian president Evo Morales declared U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg "persona non grata" and asked him to be expelled, suggesting he is aiding organizations behind the violence and sabotage. Despite numerous requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. has not turned over all the names of recipient organizations of USAID funds. Bolivia is a major recipient of USAID money, with millions of dollars sent to groups there. The U.S. also funds groups in Bolivia through the National Endowment for Democracy and related organizations.

This is U.S. foreign policy. A country in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America has been ransacked by corporations for decades. Finally, the people come together and elect a leader that will represent them (similar to Venezuela), rid the country of corporations and give the natural resources to the people and the Americans fund opposition groups to destabilize the regions in an effort to re-enrich corporations. It is outlandish, but this is our foreign policy. Anything that has ties to a socialist agenda, we attack and destroy.

I am wondering if Barack Obama would offer anything else? Does he have the power to stop this destabilization? Is this not what got Kennedy killed? Forget McCain this may be our next war - Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, you name it. Truthout!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Who Says the GOP is not Racist

Think Progress:

At the Values Voter Summit this weekend, vendors sold an item called “Obama Waffles” featuring a racist cartoon of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) on the box front — with “popping eyes and big, thick lips” — and another image of him wearing an Arab-like headdress on its top flap. Its creators, Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, said it was meant as “political satire,” and sold the box for $10 from a booth at the Family Research Council event. CNN’s Lou Dobbs stopped by the booth and exclaimed, “My wife will love this!” A photo shows Dobbs with a box of the mix in his hand.

Watch this video. I find it simply shocking.

Social Justice and What it Means for All of Us

From Truthout:

I found this quiz on truthout about social justice and the American perspective regarding social justice. This quiz challenges us to look through the eyes of those of us who are less fortunate and understand it from a global perspective.
1. How many deaths are there worldwide each year due to acts of terrorism?
Answer: The US State Department reported there were more than 22,000 deaths from terrorism last year. Over half of those killed or injured were Muslims. Source: Voice of America, May 2, 2008. "Terrorism Deaths Rose in 2007."

2. How many deaths are there worldwide each day due to poverty and malnutrition?
A: About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. Poverty.com - Hunger and World Poverty. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes - one child every five seconds. Bread for the World. Hunger Facts: International.

3. 1n 1965, CEOs in major companies made 24 times more than the average worker. In 1980, CEOs made 40 times more than the average worker. In 2007, CEOs earned how many times more than the average worker?
A: Today's average CEO from a Fortune 500 company makes 364 times an average worker's pay and over 70 times the pay of a four-star Army general. Executive Excess 2007, page 7, jointly published by Institute for Policy Studies and United for Fair Economy, August 29, 2007. The 1965 numbers from State of Working America 2004-2005, Economic Policy Institute.

4. In how many of the more than 3,000 cities and counties in the US can a full-time worker who earns the minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment?
A: In no city or county in the entire USA can a full-time worker who earns minimum wage afford even a one-bedroom rental. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) urges renters not to pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. HUD also reports the fair market rent for each of the counties and cities in the US. Nationally, in order to rent a two-bedroom apartment, one full-time worker in 2008 must earn $17.32 per hour. In fact, 81 percent of renters live in cities where the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom rental is not even affordable with two minimum-wage jobs. Source: Out of Reach 2007-2008, April 7, 2008, National Low-Income Housing Coalition.

5. In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.65 per hour. How much would the minimum wage be today if it had kept pace with inflation since 1968?
A: Calculated in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, the 1968 minimum wage would have been $9.83 in 2007 dollars. Andrew Tobias, January 16, 2008. The federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008, and will be $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.

6. True or false? People in the United States spend nearly twice as much on pet food as the US government spends on aid to help foreign countries.
A: True. The USA spends $43.4 billion on pet food annually. Source: American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. The USA spent $23.5 billion in official foreign aid in 2006. The US government gave the most of any country in the world in actual dollars. As a percentage of gross national income, the US came in second to last among OECD donor countries and ranked number 20 at 0.18 percent behind Sweden at 1.02 percent and other countries such as Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and others. This does not count private donations, which, if included, may move the US up as high as sixth. The Index of Global Philanthropy 2008, pages 15-19.

7. How many people in the world live on $2 a day or less?
A: The World Bank reported in August 2008 that 2.6 billion people consume less than $2 a day.

8. How many people in the world do not have electricity?
A: Worldwide, 1.6 billion people do not have electricity and 2.5 billion people use wood, charcoal or animal dung for cooking. United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008, pages 44-45.

9. People in the US consume 42 kilograms of meat per person per year. How much meat and grain do people in India and China eat?
A: People in the US lead the world in meat consumption at 42 kg per person per year, compared to 1.6 kg in India and 5.9 kg in China. People in the US consume five times the grain (wheat, rice, rye, barley, etc.) as people in India, three times as much as people in China, and twice as much as people in Europe. "THE BLAME GAME: Who is behind the world food price crisis," Oakland Institute, July 2008.

10. How many cars does China have for every 1,000 drivers? India? The US?
A: China has nine cars for every 1,000 drivers. India has 11 cars for every 1,000 drivers. The US has 1,114 cars for every 1,000 drivers. Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, "Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future" (2007).

11. How much grain is needed to fill an SUV tank with ethanol?
A: The grain needed to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a hungry person for a year. Lester Brown, CNN.Money.com, August 16, 2006.

12. According to The Wall Street Journal, the richest one percent of Americans earns what percent of the nation's adjusted gross income? Five percent? Ten percent? Fifteen percent? Twenty percent?
A: "According to the figures, the richest one percent reported 22 percent of the nation's total adjusted gross income in 2006. That is up from 21.2 percent a year earlier, and it is the highest in the 19 years that the IRS has kept strictly comparable figures. The 1988 level was 15.2 percent. Earlier IRS data show the last year the share of income belonging to the top one percent was at such a high level as it was in 2006 was in 1929, but changes in measuring income make a precise comparison difficult." Jesse Drucker, "Richest Americans See Their Income Share Grow," Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2008, page A3.

13. How many people does our government say are homeless in the US on any given day?
A: A total of 754,000 are homeless. About 338,000 homeless people are not in shelters (live on the streets, in cars or in abandoned buildings) and 415,000 are in shelters on any given night. The 2007 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Annual Homeless Report to Congress, page iii and 23. The population of San Francisco is about 739,000.

14. What percentage of people in homeless shelters are children?
A: HUD reports nearly one in four people in homeless shelters are children 17 or younger. Page iv, the 2007 HUD Annual Homeless Report to Congress.

15. How many veterans are homeless on any given night?
A: Over 100,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. About 18 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans. Page 32, the 2007 HUD Homeless Report. This is about the same population as Green Bay, Wisconsin.

16. The military budget of the United States in 2008 is the largest in the world at $623 billion per year. How much larger is the US military budget than that of China, the second-largest in the world?
A: Ten times. China's military budget is $65 billion. The US military budget is nearly 10 times larger than the second leading military spender. GlobalSecurity.org

17. The US military budget is larger than how many of the countries of the rest of the world combined?
A: The US military budget of $623 billion is larger than the budgets of all the countries in the rest of the world put together. The total global military budget of the rest of the world is $500 billion. Russia's military budget is $50 billion, South Koreas is $21 billion, and Irons is $4.3 billion. GlobalSecurity.org.

18. Over the 28-year history of the Berlin Wall, 287 people perished trying to cross it. How many people have died in the last four years trying to cross the border between Arizona and Mexico?
A: At least 1,268 people have died along the border of Arizona and Mexico since 2004. The Arizona Daily Star keeps track of the reported deaths along the state border, and it reports 214 died in 2004; 241 in 2005, 216 in 2006, 237 in 2007, and 116 as of July 31, 2008. These numbers do not include deaths along the California or Texas borders. The Border Patrol reported that 400 people died in fiscal 2206-2007, while 453 died in 2004-2005 and 494 died in 2004-2005. Source The Associated Press, November 8, 2007.

19. India is ranked second in the world in gun ownership with four guns per 100 people. China is third with third firearms per 100 people. Which country is first and how widespread is gun ownership?
A: The US is first in gun ownership worldwide with 90 guns for every 100 citizens. Laura MacInnis, "US most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people." Reuters, August 28, 2007.

20. What country leads the world in the incarceration of its citizens?
A: The US jails 751 inmates per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the world. Russia is second with 627 per 100,000. England's rate is 151, Germany's is 88 and Japan's is 63. The US has 2.3 million people behind bars, more than any country in the world. Adam Liptak, "Inmate Count in US Dwarfs Other Nations'" New York Times, April 23, 2008.

Lies, Lies, Lies...

Thanks for clearing this up Charlie:

For more analysis on how the Governor did.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Changing Mind of Governor Palin

From Political Wire:

"Show me where I've ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change."-- Gov. Sarah Palin, in an interview last night on ABC News.

"A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."-- Palin, in an interview with Newsmax on August 29, 2008.

Jeff Tweedy Sums It Up

It's like Jeff Tweedy is inside my head in this video. To summarize, he says Obama signifies what we hope America to be, what we thought it could be in our youth and this may be the last chance we have to see it come to fruition.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Special Comment: Olbermann Slams the Republicans for Exploiting 9/11

Are the Polls Right?

I have been very skeptical of the polls lately showing McCain still leading and showing significant success nationally, but state to state Obama still leads and the electoral map is in his favor. McCain cannot win without both Ohio and Florida - per usual. But, Obama is also fighting for Virginia which is a dead heat. He is leading in New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa (still) all Republican strongholds. So, what is up?

Gallup's tracking poll, USA Today and CBS News all show the Republicans with some kind of lead over the Democratic ticket. But, interestingly, all three polls were also conducted using a higher sampling of Republican voters than in July, raising a question of methodology. Now, I don't think this should make us sit on our hands, but it raises questions about what these polling outlets are doing? For example:

Despite a raft of advantages in the electorate for Democrats, in September's first Gallup tracking poll, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats were surveyed (including "leaners") from Sept. 3-5, compared to a 10-point Democratic identification advantage two weeks ago. That partisan makeup of the polling pool resulted in a 5-point lead for McCain in Sept. 5 tracking poll. Meanwhile, the new CBS poll features a 6-point swing in partisan composition toward Republicans, which plays some role in the poll's two-point lead for McCain. Finally, the latest USA Today poll, which claims a four-point edge for McCain, was arrived at after a 10-point swing in partisan makeup toward GOP respondents.

So, it seems what happened as the Republicans came out of their convention the polling institutions (not all of them) swung the partisan make-up of their polls toward the Republicans. It doesn't take much for a swing to occur. This is also on the heals of Democrats still gaining voter registrants at a record pace (see the chart). Palin certainly revived the base, but how did she all of a sudden get Democrats to go her way and Hillary voters? Come on. I don't buy it. Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

rachel maddow show on MSNBC

rachel maddow's new show started 9/8/08 at 9pm, following keith olbermann's countdown.

yes, the news gets a shot in the arm.

Obama Takes on the Media.

Obama takes on the fake controversy over his pig and lipstick comment. Go get 'em Obama. Not to mention all of the news about the polls is wrong. It turns out the polling groups are using out of date skewed data to manufacture a McCain bounce. No doubt he got something, but this is all bull shit.

Some of you may have -- I'm assuming you guys have heard this, watching the news. I'm talking about John McCain's economic politics, I say, "This is more of the same, you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig."
And suddenly they say, "Oh, you must be talking about the governor of Alaska."

[Laughter from audience]

See it would be funny, it would be funny except -- of course the news media all decided that that was the lead story yesterday. They'd much rather have the story -- this is the McCain campaign -- would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future.

This happens every election cycle. Every four years. This is what we do. We've got an energy crisis. We have an education system that is not working for too many of our children and making us less competitive. We have an economy that is creating hardship for families all across America. We've got two wars going on, veterans coming home not being cared for -- and this is what they want to talk about! this is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about.

You know who ends up losing at the end of the day? It's not the Democratic candidate, It's not the republican candidate. It's you, the American people. because then we go another year or another four years or another eight years without addressing the issues that matter to you. Enough.

I don't care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift-boat politics. Enough is enough.

Monday, September 8, 2008


one more day until the primary ... paul was interviewed on NPR's the brian lehrer show this morning. he handled the tough questions brilliantly ... listen here and rally for paul! go paul!

Nonviolence is an orphan among democratic ideas. It has nearly vanished from public discourse even though the most basic element of free government -the vote-has no other meaning. Every ballot is a piece of nonviolence, signifying hard won consent to raise politics above firepower and bloody conquest. -Taylor Branch-

Assembly Candidate Paul Newell is beginning to make waves in his longshot bid (an understatement) to unseat none other than the most powerful person in New York, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of the infamous three men in a room. Now with Spitzer gone, he may be the most powerful of the three men. But, Newell is not deterred and the blogosphere as well as the progressive community in New York City is beginning to take notice.
An event is scheduled this Tuesday night - June 24th, 7 - 10 PM, a fundraiser that sends a message with every contribution.

You can donate $77 for how many days until Newell unseats Silver; or

$149 for the amount of Assemblyman that will get a voice other than Silver; or

$500 (which gets you on the finance committee by the way) which is the amount of signatures Paul needs to get on the ballot.

He even has the attention of Ben Smith of Politico with the creative 'Obamawitz' image. This whole scenario makes me proud because once progressives (nationally for Obama and Edwards for that matter) realize they have power we can do just about anything.

There are some downsides to taking on the powerful, however. Paul told me when he began this quest that it wouldn't be easy and he would probably face another challenger funded by Silver. In pops Luke Henry. As Newell's candidacy began to pick up steam Henry announced. Suddenly, he moved back to the 64th from the West Village to challenge Silver, suspiciously in September. Doubly suspicious to Newell was that Henry has also worked for Wilson Elser (the lobbyist giant where Kenneth Shapiro works), which reps several firms with ties to Silver and the Assembly, such as the Dolans (Henry says he didn’t do political work there). Newell is concerned that Henry might be a sort of spoiler, an unserious candidate designed to split the non-Silver vote.

Paul, on the other hand, has lived in Chinatown for ten years, he is an Obama delegate and has been working for non-profits, including Ubuntu, an organization dedicated to the AIDS crisis in South Africa. Newell also speaks fluent Spanish, an important caveat in his constituency in the 64th. It is time the progressive blogosphere got behind a progressive candidate in New York City. NYC should be run by progressives, not old school democrats who we cannot tell from moderate Republicans, who we would rather have a conversation with - say Bloomberg than Sheldon Silver. It is ridiculous. Come to the fundraiser.
My favorite endorsement that Paul has received, however is the following from the Cougars of America: We the Cougars of America would like to endorse Paul Newell for New York State Assembly. We think he's just what we need in our government, a good lookin' young, single, and bold (bald) progressive. Not only is he the Bialystock of the Bowery, Paul has the right kind of touch (caress) and nearsighted vision that will bring a wave of fresh idea to Albany. It is time for change.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

we are what we eat.. uh oh!

after reading naomi klein's the shock doctrine and no logo, i picked up stuffed & starved at bluestockings bookstore in the lower east side. a friend had raved about it, and naomi klein called it "the product of a brilliant mind and a gift to a world hungering for justice."

what else can we do besides make smart choices at the local health food store or shop at the local farmers market? choosing smart food products feels just as impossible as choosing stuff not made in china, vietnam, the phillippines.

reading UC berkeley professor raj patel's investigation into the global food network inspires, upsets and informs. tracing the history of the world food system's ills and abuses, he also reports on the success of powerful collective groups of farmers who are taking back their land and humanizing the food production process.

his conclusion contains the heart of his argument and his plan for us to rebalance what we eat and how it's produced. he asserts several theoretical changes to get us active, thinking and sharing what we know:

1. transform our tastes -- wean ourselves from the sugar, salt, fat and processed products that food corporations push on us & learn to savour food differently. patel suggests the companies who "benefit most from the food system's inequities" must be held accountable. taxing processed food is a start to put pressure on agribusiness, just as removing soda and candy vending machines from schools (nj) or banning transfats (nyc) sends a strong message from public health advocates.

2. eat locally & seasonally -- buy local products, avoid those superstores/walmarts, and support locally owned businesses as much as possible. local food will taste more fresh than food that is treated to travel long distances. it will cost less and have a lower impact on the environment.

3. on a much broader level -- directly understand the human element of where and how our food is produced, and support farm workers rights and living wages for all. shouldn't we all have access and wages to afford higher priced fair trade and organic food?

The Denigration of the Community Organizer Demeans the Left on Purpose

I am reading a book right now on the civil rights movement. It is the third in the trilogy - "Parting the Waters" which won the Pulitzer prize, "Pillar of Fire" and the last "At Canaan's Edge." It tells the story of the civil rights movement in the King years and obviously ends with his assassination. But, it is more than that, it is the history of America during this time and tells the story of Vietnam, the Kennedy assassinations, Malcolm X, desegregation in the north and so much more.

But, one of the things that becomes starkly clear when you read these volumes, how little has changed in our politics. The civil rights protesters and freedom riders were frequently called "communists" and "sympathizers" anti-democratic. If someone in the civil rights movement dared to question the war they were denigrated as anti-American. This line of denigration has not changed and will not change until we define what it is to be an American. It is something the Democrats do not do and are afraid to do.

One such story in 1965, Julian Bond (current chairman of the NAACP and founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)) was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. This was a landmark achievement, not achieved since reconstruction; the SNCC released a statement in opposition to the Vietnam war and offered sympathy to persons who were unwilling to respond to a military draft." This is of course a country, a region of the south that was still regularly lynching and killing blacks as well as white Americans organizing around the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On January 10, 1966 the Georgia state legislature voted 184-12 not to seat Julian Bond because he publicly endorsed the SNCC's statement of opposition to U.S. policy in the Vietnam War and his sympathy for persons who were "unwilling to respond to a military service." An unjust war, beginning to kill thousands of Americans and Vietnamese and a country that did not accept him, nor wished for his participation in the democracy ousted him from its sacred body because of his dissent. This has always been the way in America for those who dissent and understand the idea of citizenship is not to support the government blindly, but to try and make our government more representative.

Again, Ronald Reagan, the leader and icon of the Conservative movement who voiced his vociferous opposition both to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 declared his candidacy for Governor of California in 1966 based on the rejected policies of Barry Goldwater. Some of Reagan's statements are so disgusting, so racist and so narrow in its view of America they are worth repeating for posterity. Not to mention it happened in nearly the same week as the Julian Bond story.

Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (calling it "humiliating to the South"), and ran for governor of California in 1966 promising to wipe the Fair Housing Act off the books. "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house," he said, "he has a right to do so." Reagan's January 4 announcement for Governor "set a dual tone." He warned darkly of oppressive liberal government, "neurotic vulgarities" on the college campus, and disorder from thinly disguised minorities - "Our city streets are jungle paths after dark" (The Watts Riots recently occurred). Then he said on Meet the Press "I am simply incapable of prejudice." It is worth noting that after the Republican convention in 1980, Reagan traveled to the county fair in Neshoba, Mississippi, where, in 1964, three Freedom Riders had been slain by the Ku Klux Klan. Before an all-white crowd of tens of thousands, Reagan declared: "I believe in states' rights." This is the Republican icon who never rejected these statements or beliefs and while he was President tried to narrow civil rights by many measures. This is Republicanism.

Reagan won the Governors race catapulting him on to the national scene with the rejected policies of Barry Goldwater, spawning 40 years of dominance on the national scene. It his legacy that we now seek to stop combined with a dangerous christian right that seeks to obliterate the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Sarah Palin represents this legacy and John McCain is too chicken shit, too desperate to reject any of it. And he questions our patriotism at every chance.

What did Governor Palin say? "I guess being a mayor is like a community organizer, but has real responsibilities." This is code to the base, don't worry we got your back. These dissenters, anti-American people who seek to work in their communities do not represent us. It is code for communist and protest and uppity black people like Congressman Westmoreland's words used to describe Senator Obama yesterday.

The Rethuglicans want to deride us and tell us what an American is and how we should act and who we should call hero. A hero is only someone who went to war, not someone who dedicates their life to the poor or the sick or justice, an American is someone who stands by it always, not someone who questions the decisions of its government, a feminist is someone who only has a vagina and doesn't whine, not someone who believes in the equality of the sexes, women's rights, choice and equal pay.

As people on the left we need to loudly re-define what it means to be an American, what this country means to us and not what it means to the boys who have been running this country into the ground since World War II. We need this to happen or we will be forever running from these attacks about our country. Senator Obama had to fend attacks from his minister who said some questionable things, no doubt, but did he deserve that type of scrutiny? What about Governor Palin? Her husband is a member of the secessionist party in Alaska and was so until 2002. The party also says she was also a member. Where is the scrutiny? Now, I don't really care what party this guy was a member of and how he dissented, it is his right as an American, but the hypocrisy is stunning.

She passes the smell test of good conservative values, Obama does not. He ain't white, his wife ain't white, his kids ain't white, his friends ain't white, he's a socialist, a communist, a liberal, therefore he ain't American. Enough!

What Better Time Than Now?

Say what you want about Rage Against the Machine. Call them commercial hypocrites, Sony fakers, and a bunch of opportunists. Call their fans a bunch of drunken frat-boys.

That is fine. We all have our opinions, but reality comes calling when the New York Times, in yesterday's edition, entitles an article: "At Both Conventions, a Band Salutes Anarchy."

The article, if you hadn't guessed, is about recent shows in Denver and Minneapolis, and the fan reaction, as well as, and moreover, the police reaction, to the mere presence of the L.A. band members, who covered, on one of their four major albums, the Rolling Stones, "Street Fighting Man."

After breaking up in 2000, and regrouping last year, Rage is back. They still haven't put out a new album, but they do get themselves in trouble.

This from the article:

ST. PAUL — On Wednesday night, Republican delegates fresh off Gov. Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination speech at the Xcel Energy Center here formed a conga line of taxis, buses and private cars to Minneapolis, where post-convention parties were firing up. At almost the same time, a huge crowd was emptying out of the Target Center after a political show of a different sort — a concert by the band Rage Against the Machine.

A small fraction of those people, perhaps 200, decided to take over the intersection of First Avenue North and Seventh Street. Traffic snarled, and delegates watched in waiting traffic as riot-clad police pushed the spontaneous, vocal protest up Seventh Street. A delegate from Texas said, “Those guys, again?”

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Joe Biden on the Stump

While Governor Palin goes into seclusion and hides from the media "we" have this guy. He tears them one. Thanks Joe.

Friday, September 5, 2008

NAPW Shares the Truth with Sarah Palin

All this talk about Sarah Palin and the rights of fetuses (feti?) has got to make you wonder, what does this all mean for women exactly? Remember them? The vessels for the unborn? The people with vayjayjays? 

If you have ever wondered what fetal protection laws do to pregnant women, then check out the work of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Here's their mission: 

National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW)works to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of all women, focusing particularly on pregnant and parenting women, and those who are most vulnerable - low income women, women of color, and drug-using women. NAPW seeks to ensure that women do not lose their constitutional and human rights as a result of pregnancy, that addiction and other health and welfare problems they face during pregnancy are addressed as health issues, not as crimes; that families are not needlessly separated, based on medical misinformation; and that pregnant and parenting women have access to a full range of reproductive health services, as well as non-punitive drug treatment services. By focusing on the rights of pregnant women, NAPW broadens and strengthens the reproductive justice, drug policy reform, and other interconnected social justice movements in America today.
This organization does what the right to life pretends to do.  Next check out their ED's open letter to Sarah Palin.  Read it all please but I will share one highlight:

According to the press reports, instead of going straight to a hospital you chose to get on a long airplane flight back to Alaska.

When Pamela Rae Stewart, allegedly, didn't get to the hospital quickly enough on the day of her delivery, she was arrested in California on the theory that she had violated the rights of her fetus.
Let's get this done. Obama/Biden '08. Not only because they rock, but because McCain/Palin is too costly for American women.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Does the $300,000 Buy?

Cindy McCain's outfit at the Rethuglican convention last night cost $300,000. And Barack Obama is elitist? That aside Daily Kos asks what can $300,000 buy?

From Daily Kos:

Didn't Cindy McCain look pretty this week? As often happens with celebrity women at high powered events, the fashionistas have been on the prowl at the RNCC and are dishing on every passing skirt, pant suit, and set of heels. The fashion experts at Vanity Fair estimated the value of Cindy McCain's outfit on Tuesday night to be in the range of $300,000. That's a lot of bling.

So, what does $300,000 buy in America?- An average American home ---- plus $80,000 in upgrades.
- Full, four year college tuition, plus room and board, for two students
- Nearly four times the average retirement savings for persons age 45 to 62.
- Roughly ten full-time community organizers working to make neighborhoods and America better.
- Ten full-time special needs caregivers for a year
- Twelve full-time maids for each of your seven homes.
- 6,000 hours of picking lettuce at $50 per hour
- 600 pairs of John McCain's $500 Italian loafers
And last, but not least.......- One outfit for Cindy McCain to wear on national TV while she explains to America that John McCain and the Republicans understand their economic and social woes. Pffft. Believe that and I've got a "Bridge to Nowhere" I'd like to show you......

The Hypocrisy of the Pundits

John Stewart reminds us not to trust the pundits. At least we can trust him.

This is for all of you community organizers out there....

If you don't read/watch Jay's blog, get on it. http://www.illdoctrine.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Protestor Sprayed in the face

This protestor is trying to hand the police a flower (you know, like the sixties) and they spray her in the face and then as she is physically pained the spray her again from behind. All you hear is the protestors are violent. There is an appeal on Daily Kos for Olbermann to cover these protestors. They are exercising their first amendment right, remember those days? When we had the Bill of Rights.

Have that baby, but we ain't helping you.

File this in "Shocking News."

Sarah Palin cut funding for pregnant teens in Alaska. Check it out.

And they say the right to life loves babies...ugh yeah.

Monday, September 1, 2008

John McCain's Judgment

Ok, so now in addition to a serious abuse of power issue in what is being dubbed "troopergate" Governor Palin's 17 year old daughter is five months pregnant, and the Governor was once a member of a secessionist party in Alaska. There is actually more... I understand that Obama thinks families are off limits and I respect him for that, but her idea that "abstinence" is an actual policy to keep kids from not getting pregnant or having sex or contracting diseases is an issue and it places her in the ridiculous position of being a hypocrite and foolish like the rest of the Rethuglicans. Pathetic. It also places John McCain's judgment front and center, begging the question why on earth would he choose this obscure Governor from Alaska?

See below what is actually the best argument on why she has no business on the ticket. Campbell Scott, who I have never really had an opinion of seriously challenges this bozo from the McCain campaign on her foreign policy credibility, which is none. The McCain argument is "yeah, but Obama doesn't either." She tears apart that argument. It is worth every second.