Thursday, March 31, 2011

what happened?

Does anyone else remember when being "tough" meant you could "take it"?

When did being "tough" begin to mean you could "dish it out".

Why do so many supposed "tough" folks, the ones who speak of being "rugged individualists" whine so loud when folks use the same tactics they employ against them?

I was taught that meant you were a BULLY.

When did our culture begin to celebrate BULLIES?

Why?

Is it because so many are RICH? Is it because they highlight our basest emotions? Is it because they act the way so many folks WISH they could - especially after a lifetime of being abused in rotten jobs?

We seem to be well on our way to becoming a truly EVIL society -- led by our supposed "CHRISTIANS".

I'm so ashamed of what we have become, and are becoming. What happened?

Indiana Rep Says Women Will Fake Rape Or Incest To Get An Abortion

Here we have another woman-hating-Republican, or should I just say Republican, since most act as if they neither like nor trust women -- oh yeah, they also seem to think we are both stupid and scheming.

In fact the stereotype of woman that seems to be common among Republicans is not unlike the opinion anti-Semites have of Jews, or racists have of Black and Brown people.

They do admit there are some "good women". I think that means obedient, quiet, fawning, and subservient. Isn't that why so many losers marry "mail-order-brides"?

UGH!!
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FAKE RAPE OR INCEST!!

This man needs to hear banjos in the back-country --- "my, what purty lips you have".

Do any men really have ANY IDEA what RAPE is? What it does to a person?

I think not.

Struggles of the top 5%

This from Digby at "Hullabaloo" - please follow link to original.

Once again, Republicans prove how out-of-touch with real people they are. If these are "the winners", I'll stick with the "losers".
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Struggles of the top 5%

by digby

How to sound like a total ass in one easy lesson:

At a town hall meeting in Polk County, Wisconsin earlier this year, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) was asked whether he'd vote to cut his http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif$174,000 annual salary. Duffy sort of hedged, and went on to talk about how $174,000 really isn't that much for his family of seven to live on. Then he went on to say he supports cutting compensation for all public employees, along the lines of what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has proposed for the Badger State...

Duffy also said that he pays more in health care costs and retirement savings than he did when he was a district attorney before he ran for Congress. That said, Duffy said he'd support the idea of "public employees across the board" taking a compensation cut.

"Let's all join hands together and say 'I'll take a pay decrease, absolutely," Duffy said.



The median household income in his district was $50,520 in 2008. This guy makes more money than 95% of Americans.

I'm sure Congressman Duffy believes that he is a far superior person than those losers who can't even manage to crack six figures so it's not worth even comparing the sacrifices he makes. And in any case, he's making less than he could if he worked on Wall Street or in some other elevated position (and undoubtedly will when he cashes in from his stint in government.) So really, he's sacrificed quite enough already and it's very generous of him to even consider giving up some of this 172,000 salary.

I've heard this same line many, many times, even from liberals who complain that their quarter million dollar salaries are barely enough to meet expenses. I heard one complaining a few years back that one simply can't afford to live in LA on less that 300k a year (and even then you'd have to live somewhere horrible, darling, like Encino.) I hear this and I want to give them a brisk slap. They simply must not even see the hundreds of people they cross paths with every day of their lives.

Still, there's something particularly smarmy about a politician who whines to his own constituents about barely getting by on three times their salary and then offering to "sacrifice" by taking a pay cut right along with them. Big of him. As if he will feel the same pinch as someone who brings home 600 bucks a week...


BTW: The GOP was so thrilled with that speech they had it up on their web-site until it was pointed out that their boy came off as Little Lord Fauntleroy.They are so far out of touch these days that they can't even fake being human any more.

Fastest Growing Big Cities

Note #'s 3, 8, 9, and 11. Texas is becoming more urban, with a number of large and medium cities. We have a surprisingly diverse population while still keeping a unique "Texas point of view".


Sitting On Top of the World - Cream (2005 Reunion)

BOB WILLS / SITTIN' ON TOP OF THE WORLD

A little Texas Country Swing - The King, Bob Wills:

By the way .................

In case you wondered, Republicans are ANTI-AMERICAN. They would destroy the country just to get back into power, and destroy it some more. Look at how anti-all-things-Americans-hold-sacred they really are.

A vote for a Republican is a vote AGAINST AMERICA.

The Truth About the Economy that Nobody In Washington Or On Wall Street Will Admit: We’re Heading Back Toward a Double Dip

More "good news", this from Robert Reich. This is stuff you have known about for some time -- unless you are working on Wall Street, Washington D.C., or are a Republican DICKWAD. As usual, please follow link to original.
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The Truth About the Economy that Nobody In Washington Or On Wall Street Will Admit: We’re Heading Back Toward a Double Dip

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why aren’t Americans being told the truth about the economy? We’re heading in the direction of a double dip – but you’d never know it if you listened to the upbeat messages coming out of Wall Street and Washington.

Consumers are 70 percent of the American economy, and consumer confidence is plummeting. It’s weaker today on average than at the lowest point of the Great Recession.

The Reuters/University of Michigan survey shows a 10 point decline in March – the tenth largest drop on record. Part of that drop is attributable to rising fuel and food prices. A separate Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence, just released, shows consumer confidence at a five-month low — and a large part is due to expectations of fewer jobs and lower wages in the months ahead.

Pessimistic consumers buy less. And fewer sales spells economic trouble ahead.

What about the 192,000 jobs added in February? (We’ll know more Friday about how many jobs were added in March.) It’s peanuts compared to what’s needed. Remember, 125,000 new jobs are necessary just to keep up with a growing number of Americans eligible for employment. And the nation has lost so many jobs over the last three years that even at a rate of 200,000 a month we wouldn’t get back to 6 percent unemployment until 2016.

But isn’t the economy growing again – by an estimated 2.5 to 2.9 percent this year? Yes, but that’s even less than peanuts. The deeper the economic hole, the faster the growth needed to get back on track. By this point in the so-called recovery we’d expect growth of 4 to 6 percent.

Consider that back in 1934, when it was emerging from the deepest hole of the Great Depression, the economy grew 7.7 percent. The next year it grew over 8 percent. In 1936 it grew a whopping 14.1 percent.

Add two other ominous signs: Real hourly wages continue to fall, and housing prices continue to drop. Hourly wages are falling because with unemployment so high, most people have no bargaining power and will take whatever they can get. Housing is dropping because of the ever-larger number of homes people have walked away from because they can’t pay their mortgages. But because homes the biggest asset most Americans own, as home prices drop most Americans feel even poorer.

There’s no possibility government will make up for the coming shortfall in consumer spending. To the contrary, government is worsening the situation. State and local governments are slashing their budgets by roughly $110 billion this year. The federal stimulus is ending, and the federal government will end up cutting some $30 billion from this year’s budget.

In other words: Watch out. We may avoid a double dip but the economy is slowing ominously, and the booster rockets are disappearing.

So why aren’t we getting the truth about the economy? For one thing, Wall Street is buoyant – and most financial news you hear comes from the Street. Wall Street profits soared to $426.5 billion last quarter, according to the Commerce Department. (That gain more than offset a drop in the profits of non-financial domestic companies.) Anyone who believes the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill put a stop to the Street’s creativity hasn’t been watching.

To the extent non-financial companies are doing well, they’re making most of their money abroad. Since 1992, for example, G.E.’s offshore profits have risen $92 billion, from $15 billion (which is one reason it pays no U.S. taxes). In fact, the only group that’s optimistic about the future are CEOs of big American companies. The Business Roundtable’s economic outlook index, which surveys 142 CEOs, is now at its highest point since it began in 2002.

Washington, meanwhile, doesn’t want to sound the economic alarm. The White House and most Democrats want Americans to believe the economy is on an upswing.

Republicans, for their part, worry that if they tell it like it is Americans will want government to do more rather than less. They’d rather not talk about jobs and wages, and put the focus instead on deficit reduction (or spread the lie that by reducing the deficit we’ll get more jobs and higher wages).

I’m sorry to have to deliver the bad news, but it’s better you know.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WHY??

Why would ANY woman or working person EVER vote for a Republican?

Do you hate yourselves THAT MUCH?

Maine GOP Legislators Looking To Loosen Child Labor Laws

Welcome To Maine -- the NEW Mississippi. (please follow link to original on Huffington Post)
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Maine GOP Legislators Looking To Loosen Child Labor Laws

WASHINGTON -- Far from places like Ohio and Wisconsin, Maine has become a new battleground in the labor fight. Gov. Paul LePage (R) recently sparked the anger of the union community by ordering a mural depicting workers throughout the state's history removed from the Department of Labor. Now, Republican members of the state legislature are attempting to loosen child labor laws that the community fought hard to put into place.

The minimum wage in Maine is $7.50 an hour, and there is no training or subminimum wage for students. But under a new piece of legislation introduced in the state's House of Representatives, employers would be able to pay anyone under the age of 20 as little as $5.25 an hour for their first 180 days on the job.

The bill, LD 1346, also eliminates the maximum number of hours a minor 16 years of age or older can work on a school day and allows a minor under the age of 16 to work up to four hours on a school day during hours when school is not in session.

With Maine's unemployment above 7 percent, state Rep. Paul Gilbert (D) wonders why Republicans are pushing to create a pool of cheap labor when so many people are begging for jobs.

"If we had a shortage of job applicants or potential workers, then you could look at other populations to ease that strain on the workforce," Gilbert told The Huffington Post. "But we don't have that right now. We have an excess of job applicants here in Maine, as well across the country."

The state Senate is also currently considering a bill (LD 516) that would allow 16- and 17-year-old students to work until 11:00 p.m. on school nights. Currently, they're allowed to work until 10:00 p.m. It would also allow students to work for a total of 24 hours per week, four more than current law allows. Senators on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee are split along party lines on the bill, but it's likely to pass when the full body votes on it--the Senate, like the House, is controlled by Republicans.

Democrats in the legislature, along with progressives, labor groups, and advocates for women and children, are opposed to the bills, while industry groups such as the Maine Restaurant Association argue that the current law is too strict compared to others in New England.
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In a press release sent out by the Maine House Democratic office yesterday, Sen. Troy Jackson, the lead Democrat on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee, said, "While the Governor is distracted by artwork that makes him angry, the Republicans in legislature are rolling back protections for Maine kids."

The sponsor of LD 1346, Rep. David Burns (R), did not return a request for comment. But co-sponsor Rep. Bruce Bickford (R) said that the government should stop standing in the way on child labor issues.

"This is in no way an attempt to abuse child labor, which some may look at and say, 'We've fought hard for kids and we've done this or that,'" he said. "Kids have parents. Let the parents be responsible for the kids. It's not up to the government to regulate everybody's life and lifestyle. Take the government away. Let the parents take care of their kids."

Bickford said he supported making it easier for young people to get a job so that they can earn some extra spending money and build up their resume and skills, arguing that right now, students have plenty of time after school that they could fill with employment.

"I would support removing the cap for daily and weekly hours, but I would also support amending it to six hours when school is in session, so the student could get home from school -- say 3:00 -- and could work from 4:00-9:00. They'd still have plenty of time for homework," Bickford added. "Most of these kids are generally up well past 10:00. They could work a 3:00-9:00 shift."

Gilbert disagreed, saying it could end up being a 14 or 15-hour day for students who should be prioritizing education. Gilbert also said that since many young people do seasonal work that doesn't last more than 180 days, essentially they'll be taking a two-hour pay cut.

Testifying recently against the proposed change to the law, Maine Children Alliance President and CEO Dean Crocker said that with 20 percent of students in the state currently not graduating high school, the state needs to do everything it can to prioritize education: "Letting work once again interfere with the education is not the step we should take."

Other co-sponsors of LD 1346 were less enthusiastic about some of the provisions in the legislation than Bickford was. Rep. Eleanor Espling (R) told The Huffington Post that she primarily supported the bill because it would allow parents more flexibility over the work opportunities of home-schooled children. Right now, they need to obtain a work permit from the local school district, but under the new bill, they would be able to simply get the sign-off from their parents.

Espling said she noticed that federal law allows a training wage of $4.25 an hour for the first 90 days of employment for a young person under 20 years of age. "I think what we might see as this bill goes through the committee process is that they'll find they need to get it more in line with federal standards," she added.

Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R), another co-sponsor, also said she has some "concerns" with the $5.25 an hour provision, although believes "there may be positions for workers in the younger brackets that it could be appropriate for certain duties."

"My main motivating reason for co-sponsoring this bill was to open the discussion in regard to expanding the hours that the different age brackets can work," she said. "I was a staffing coordinator for a company in Augusta and there were many times where, depending on the students' school schedules, they could have easily worked more, and indeed wanted to work more, than Maine statute allowed. Specifically, the 16 to 18-year-olds. As long as there are some limits in place so their education time isn't compromised, I believe we do a disservice to these kids who want to work by telling them they can't."

LD 1346 was referred to the House LCRED committee on Tuesday, although a schedule to debate the bill has not yet been set. LD 516 is now facing a full vote by the Senate.

According to the Maine Women's Lobby, which has been one the leading voices in opposition to the two bills, the state's child labor laws were put into place in 1847 after educators complained that children working long hours were falling asleep in class.

"The current law limiting working hours for 16 and 17 year-olds was forged through bipartisan agreement in the legislature about the need to balance employer interests with the health and welfare of Maine children," reads a statement by the group. "According to the Legislative Record, in debate on the Senate floor, the original law was referred to as the 'Put Learning First, Put Working Second' bill."

Matt Schlobohm, executive director of Maine AFL-CIO, argued that what is happening with the child labor laws is part of a larger agenda by state Republicans.

"The Department of Labor, for the past 20 years, supported the basic policy framework that...prioritized younger workers' education first and foremost, while also valuing the education they gained through work experience," said Schlobohm. "They really tried to strike an appropriate balance where young people could gain an education that could guide them through the rest of their life. I think there's a whole host of rollbacks of workers' rights and basic workplace standards now."

Global Crunch in Supplies of Key Fertilizer Could Threaten Food Supply and Raise Prices

This from "Newswise" - please follow link for original, and the rest of the article. (gosh, will the "good news" ever stop?)
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Global Crunch in Supplies of Key Fertilizer Could Threaten Food Supply and Raise Prices

Newswise — WASHINGTON, March 27, 2011 — Global production of phosphorus fertilizer could peak and decline later this century, causing shortages and price spikes that jeopardize world food production, five major scientific societies warned today. The crisis will come at a time when Earth’s population may surge past 9 billion.

Rice, corn, wheat and other staple food crops require phosphorus, which along with nitrogen and potassium, is one of the three key fertilizer substances that sustain world food supply. Projections indicate that world population will rise from 6.8 billion today to 8.9 billion in 2050.

Chemistry for a Sustainable Global Society warns not only about “peak phosphorus” — an echo of the more familiar concerns about “peak oil” — but raises red flags about the supply of other natural resources where monopolies or political instability could cut off supplies or inflate prices. They include rare earth elements (REEs) and precious metals like lithium, platinum and palladium that are needed to produce computers, mobile phones, rechargeable batteries, solar cells, fuel cells, medications, pollution control devices for cars and other key products.

Why We’re Fasting

This from Mark Bittman in The New York Times - please follow link to original
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Why We’re Fasting

I stopped eating on Monday and joined around 4,000 other people in a fast to call attention to Congressional budget proposals that would make huge cuts in programs for the poor and hungry.

By doing so, I surprised myself; after all, I eat for a living. But the decision was easy after I spoke last week with David Beckmann, a reverend who is this year’s World Food Prize laureate. Our conversation turned, as so many about food do these days, to the poor.

Who are — once again — under attack, this time in the House budget bill, H.R. 1. The budget proposes cuts in the WIC program (which supports women, infants and children), in international food and health aid (18 million people would be immediately cut off from a much-needed food stream, and 4 million would lose access to malaria medicine) and in programs that aid farmers in underdeveloped countries. Food stamps are also being attacked, in the twisted “Welfare Reform 2011” bill. (There are other egregious maneuvers in H.R. 1, but I’m sticking to those related to food.)

These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts — they’d barely make a dent — will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now. And: The bill would increase defense spending.

Beckmann, who is president of Bread for the World, made me want to join in just by talking about his commitment. For me, the fast is a way to demonstrate my interest in this fight, as well as a way to remind myself and others that there are bigger things in life than dinner. (Shocking, I know.) I expect I’ll learn something about patience and fortitude while I’m at it. Thirty-six hours into the fast, my senses are heightened and everything feels a bit strange. Odors from the cafeteria a floor away drift down to my desk. In the elevator, I can smell a muffin; on the street, I can smell everything — good and bad. But as hungry as I may get, we know I’ll eat well soon. (Please check my blog for a progress report.)

Many poor people don’t have that option, and Beckmann and his co-organizers are calling for God to create a “circle of protection” around them. Some are fasting for a day, many for longer. (I’m fasting until Friday, and Beckmann until Monday. And, no, it’s not too late to join us.)

When I reminded Beckmann that poor people’s hunger was hardly a new phenomenon, and that God hasn’t made a confirmed appearance recently — at least that I know of — he suggested I read Isaiah 58, in which God says that if we were more generous while we fasted he’d treat us better. Maybe. But a billion people are just as hungry, human, and as deserving now as the Israelites were when they were fleeing Egypt, and I don’t see any manna.

This isn’t about skepticism, however; it’s about ironies and outrages. In 2010, corporate profits grew at their fastest rate since 1950, and we set records in the number of Americans on food stamps. The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all American households combined, the effective tax rate on the nation’s richest people has fallen by about half in the last 20 years, and General Electric paid zero dollars in U.S. taxes on profits of more than $14 billion. Meanwhile, roughly 45 million Americans spend a third of their posttax income on food — and still run out monthly — and one in four kids goes to bed hungry at least some of the time.

It’s those people whom Beckmann and his allies (more than 30 organizations are on board) are trying to protect. The coalition may be a bit too quick to support deficit reduction, essentially saying, “We understand the need for fiscal responsibility, but we don’t want to sacrifice the powerless, nearly voiceless poor in its name. As Beckmann knows, however, deficit reduction isn’t as important as keeping people from starving: “We shouldn’t be reducing our meager efforts for poor people in order to reduce the deficit,” he told me by phone. “They didn’t get us into this, and starving them isn’t going to get us out of it.”

This is a moral issue; the budget is a moral document. We can take care of the deficit and rebuild our infrastructure and strengthen our safety net by reducing military spending and eliminating corporate subsidies and tax loopholes for the rich. Or we can sink further into debt and amoral individualism by demonizing and starving the poor. Which side are you on?

If faith increases your motivation, that’s great, but I doubt God will intervene here. Instead, we need to gather and insist that our collective resources be used for our collective welfare, not for the wealthiest thousand or even million Americans but for a vast majority of us in the United States and, indeed, for citizens of the world who have difficulty making ends meet. Or feeding their kids.

Though Beckmann is too kind to say it, he and many other religious leaders believe that true worship can’t take place without joining this struggle: “You can’t have real religion,” he told me, “unless you work for justice for hungry and poor people.”

I don’t think you can have much humanity, either.

Our Broken Country

This directly from "Time Goes By - what it's really like to get older". It's titled "Our Broken Country" - please follow link to original
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Our Broken Country

Even while my critical faculties were in retreat for the past week, between naps I've read the news and opinion online, listened the officials and pundits on television, and now that I'm feeling less sick and just tired, it struck me more clearly than ever: we-the-people are completely screwed.

Everything we have learned in the past two years since the crash comes down to this: Corporations and the government are in collusion against the rest of us and having rigged the system in their favor, they are within an inch of winning it all.

Name one thing in the past two years that Congress or the president has done to improve the lives of anyone but the rich.

The FICA tax holiday, you say? That's just stealing from Social Security – one-sixth of its annual revenue. And it would be a sucker's bet to put money on the holiday expiring as planned at the end of this year.

The Affordable Health Care Act? Please. During the health care debate, 45 million people were without coverage; now 52 million are.

Millions have lost their homes to foreclosure, often on fraudulently created mortgages for which no one has been prosecuted.

For those who still own their homes, housing prices have dropped by an average of 30 percent, but my property tax bill – and undoubtedly yours too – has increased each year.

For the past week, innumerable news stories report that the largest corporations with billions in profits pay no taxes and often get refunds from the government too.

I just learned in the past couple of days that corporations are given subsidies from the government for sending jobs overseas.

In the endless budget battle in Washington, there is not a word from either side of the aisle about helping people in dire need - it is ONLY about cutting funds for programs that benefit average people and the poor: schools, health care, teachers, police, firemen. And, of course, cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

They call all these cuts “shared sacrifice,” but the only word about tax revenue is that cutting corporate taxes to zero will lead companies to hire again. Huh? They're sitting on $2 trillion in cash now and aren't hiring.

Meanwhile, as they insist the country is broke, we have started a third war in the Middle East. They can call it a “no-fly zone” all they want, but when it is Tomahawk missiles that are flying, I call that war – and so should you.

In defiance of a court order, the Wisconsin governor has implemented the new law destroying collective bargaining. How is that legal?

And someone – I've forgotten who – wants to deny food stamps to any family in which a member participates in a workers' strike.

In Maine, the tea party governor tore down a mural at the Department of Labor because it was, he said, not business-friendly. Hul-lo, LePage – it's called the Department of LABOR, not the Department of Business.

A whole lot of people who have participated in all these attacks, and some others who can't wait to go even further, want to be the next president:

Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, Herman Cain and the rest. Every one of them is ignorant, racist, a freak or all three - and all are in bed with corporations.

Meanwhile, President Obama's top White House advisers are corporate titans busily securing their future. This from Chris Hedges yesterday:

”The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions.

“Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense.

“The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education into mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations.

“The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest.”

Hedges is, of course, correct. The question is, how do we change it?

North Carolina bill would prohibit cities from upgrading Internet access

These folks HATE the American people, HATE progress, and do not know what they are doing. (this from Raw Story - follow link, etc.)
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North Carolina bill would prohibit cities from upgrading Internet access


The Republican-dominated North Carolina State Assembly this week approved a bill that would prohibit communities from upgrading their internet access, forcing individual municipalities into a private monopoly of managed broadband services by companies like Time Warner and Comcast.

Both firms have been restricting the amount of bandwidth users can consume, even though bandwidth itself is not a tangible, meter-able commodity.

The bill, which was heavily supported by telecom giant Time Warner, comes on the heels of several communities successfully launching their own fiber-optic broadband programs. One program in Wilson, North Carolina, called Greenlight, even features speeds up to 100 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) at a lower price than its corporate competitors.

That's because Greenlight is a public utility, instead of a profits-making scheme, that places access and quality of service above harvesting dollars off customers. Instead of focusing on margins or how to impose fees on metered bandwidth use, they're able to focus on simply providing the best the Internet has to offer.

Prior to the arrival of Greenlight, most Internet users in Wilson only had access to 7 Mbps speeds, at a much higher price than the public utility's plans. For about the same price as the slower connection, Greenlight users get access to 20 Mbps speeds, with options to upgrade to 100M for about $150 a month.

However, in a Monday night vote, North Carolina assemblymen voted 81-37 to bring that to a halt, banning any other communities from upgrading their own connections and forcing them to continue patronizing private providers.

Currently-existing community broadband services like Greenlight, which five North Carolina communities have already set up, would not be affected should the bill clear the state senate.

The cities of Asheville, Bladenboro and Momeyer have all passed resolutions condemning the statewide bill.

Proponents of the broadband restrictions claim municipalities should not be able to borrow money to build networks without explicit voter approval. They also want the restrictions passed to prevent groups like Greenlight from providing service below what it costs, using money from other public utilities to cover the income gap.

North Carolina's broadband limitation bill now moves on to the state senate.

Scott Walker Rejected $12 Million Of The Specific $150 Million In High-Speed Rail Funds He Now Wants

This from Huffington Post - (follow link, etc., etc.).

As so many others have said -- Walker is THE worst governor EVER ....... well, then again, there's that guy in New Jersey, the ones in Mich., Indiana, Florida, etc., etc., etc.

Still, he really is TERRIBLE -- and, totally un-American. A useless toady, and a dictator wannabe. Jimmy Hoffa, Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, and Carlo Gambino would have been better govs.

That's sad.
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Scott Walker Rejected $12 Million Of The Specific $150 Million In High-Speed Rail Funds He Now Wants

WASHINGTON -- Millions of dollars of federal funding for specific high-speed rail services that Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is now requesting were included in the initial batch of grants he rejected for the state of Wisconsin, a federal official tells The Huffington Post.

On Tuesday, Walker appeared to abruptly reverse tone and course by asking the Department of Transportation for $150 million in grants to help pay for high-speed rail improvements. While campaigning for the post he now holds, Walker made a big show of calling for the rejection of more than $800 million in federal funds that had been awarded for Wisconsin, calling it wasteful, if not unneeded, spending.

Inconsistency, the governor’s office insisted, this surely was not. The $150 million in funds Walker was now requesting were for improvements to the Hiawatha line -- between Milwaukee and Chicago – which, the governor stressed, was more popular and profitable. The previous batch of money was for a line between Madison and Milwaukee, which, because it was new, would have had cost overruns and required additional state obligations.

A Department of Transportation source, however, says that while the majority of the $800-million-plus in funds set aside for Wisconsin was for the Madison-Milwaukee rail, a small but not insignificant chunk was for improvements to the Hiawatha line.

“They received $12 million to upgrade and lay new track on the Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago,” the DOT official said.

A call to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was not immediately returned.

Walker, it should be noted, was not responsible for Wisconsin’s initial application for high-speed rail funds. That would be his predecessor: Democrat Jim Doyle. But he also did not have to reject the full $800-million-plus package upon coming to office. The $12 million set aside for the Hiawatha line could, theoretically, have been kept and used for the purposes that Walker now wants.
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That it wasn’t kept earned Walker early plaudits among fellow, self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives. But it also put Wisconsin in its current predicament, in which it is one of potentially dozens of states petitioning the Department of Transportation for a chunk of the $2.4 billion that the state of Florida gave up when its governor, Rick Scott, rejected high-speed rail.

According to the DOT official, all applications for that money, including Wisconsin’s, are due this coming Monday.

Rick Scott’s extremely profitable policy proposal

Fraud is now an accepted "business model". I wish we had a President.

this from Ezra Klein. Please follow link to original.
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Rick Scott’s extremely profitable policy proposal


Florida Gov. Rick Scott is one of the most entertainingly shameless figures in American political life. In the 1990s, Scott headed Columbia/HCA Healthcare, the largest for-profit hospital in America. While Scott was running Columbia/HCA Healthcare, it got involved in a bit — okay, a lot — of fraud. As Forbes reported, the company “increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ‘loans’ that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.”

The scale of the fraud was so immense that Columbia/HCA Healthcare ended up paying more than $2 billion (PDF) back to the federal government in the single largest fraud case in history. (The previous record holder? Drexel Burnham.) Scott resigned shortly before the judgment came down.

Today, Scott is enjoying a second act as governor of Florida. And, as Suzy Khimm reports, he doesn’t seem all that chastened. Before running for office, he turned his $62 million stake in Solantic, the urgent-care clinic chain he founded after resigning from Columbia/HCA Healthcare, over to a trust in his wife’s name. Solantic doesn’t take traditional Medicaid, but it does work with the private HMOs that, under a 2005 pilot program, were allowed to contract with Medicaid. And Scott is now pushing a bill that would expand that program across the state making those HMOs — the ones Solantic works with — the norm for Medicaid.

Asked about the apparent conflict of interest, Scott said, “If you look at everything that I want to accomplish in health care in Florida is basically what I’ve believed all my life. I believe in the principle that if you have more competition it will drive down the prices.” And I believe him. But he could have sold his stake in Solantic when he got into government. Since he didn’t, the fact remains that Scott is pushing a policy his family stands to profit from immensely . Which is, for Scott, real progress. In the 1990s, he made his money off single-payer health-care programs by cheating them. Today, he’s making his money off single-payer health-care programs by running them. No matter how you look at it, it’s a step up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

happy, happy, joy, joy!!

It's time to revisit "Some Assembly Required" -- please follow my link to original -- then follow his link to the original --- READ!

Here, some samples -- just to let you know (again) how much FUN we're having, every single day. Might as well have fun now - who knows when you will have as much fun again.
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Revolting Developments: From 2000 to 2007 (latest data available) the wealthiest 10% of Americans received 100% of the average income growth throughout the nation. All of it. Better yet, they convinced the rest of us this was a Good Idea. In 2009, the richest 5% claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. And got a tax cut. What's on TV tonight?

Freedom From Information: Another area where Obama mirrors Bush is in providing non-responses to FOI requests. The political interference is ‘meddling,’ ‘crazy’ and ‘bananas’. Not to mention non-responsive and illegal. “They don’t like to abide by the law or be reminded that they are breaking it.”

Playing Phone Tag: Yes, we know you know that the cops can find you via your cell phone. But did you know that the phone company keeps a record of where you were – every 7 seconds of every day for the last six months? Any idea to whom they sell the info?

The Road: Baseball season in Japan has been pushed back, and when it does start there will be no night games. The idea is to keep people from wasting gasoline driving to the stadium and for the stadiums not to waste electricity lighting up ballparks. Likewise Tokyo's pulsing electronic billboards have been switched off and trash goes uncollected to save on diesel fuel, while factories are closed due to electrical shortages. Think of it as previews.
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Good advice -- look at the rest of the world where "austerity" has taken hold -- that's our immediate "previews". What follows will be worse - far worse.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Horrors Perpetrated By Fake Christian Clinics

These people are EVIL. They are the ones doing the work of "SATAN" - they are mislead, mean, evil, and rotten to their core. If you are against abortion, at least be honest, accurate, and aboveboard. These fake clinics don't do any good -- especially since they don't seem to give a damn about the CHILD after he or she is BORN. Fake piety. Mean spirited, evil people.

This from Alternet - please follow link, etc., etc., etc.



The Horrors Perpetrated By Fake Christian Clinics

Now that South Dakota has actually passed legislation requiring every woman seeking an abortion to be ‘counseled’ by a Fake Clinic, it’s obvious that, in all fairness, every pregnant woman who is considering having a baby has to be counseled at an abortion clinic. Of course that wouldn't make any sense because, unlike the Fake Clinics, abortion clinics don't have an agenda for the patient except that she make the best decision for herself!

What would happen if a woman who wanted a baby were counseled at an abortion clinic? The counselor or advocate would ask a few questions and then probably say something like “It sounds as though you know what you want. Congratulations. Can I help you find any community resources to help?”

What will happen when a woman who wants an abortion is counseled at a Fake Clinic? The monstrous deception that occurs in the Fake Clinics has been exposed in films such as the HBO Special 12th and Delaware. Because the Fakes have a well-hidden agenda, everything they do is designed to frighten and shame a woman who knows it is not the right time for her to have a baby. This fraudulence is clearly set out in the instructions given by the diabolical Robert Pearson, who came up with this brilliant and evil plan way back in 1967 when abortion was first legal in Hawaii. Pearson himself acknowledged and defended the deception in a 1994 speech: “obviously, we’re fighting Satan... A killer, who in this case is the girl who wants to kill her baby, has no right to information that will help her kill her baby. Therefore, when she calls and says, ‘Do you do abortions?’ we do not tell her, No, we don’t do abortions.” The volunteers in his centers and others like them don’t mind tricking women because they think they are following some ‘higher law’. They don’t mind lying and misrepresenting things like the specious breast cancer-abortion link, the dangers of abortion, and most cruel of all, the help available to a woman who realizes that she honestly cannot support a child financially. The original Pearson manual includes: "[o]ur name of the game is to get the woman to come in as do the abortion chambers. Be put off by nothing... Let nothing stop you. The stakes are life or death." In 12th and Delaware we witnessed a young woman who came to a Fake and was so terrified by what they told her about abortion that she went home and months later knew with great anguish that she was still in no position to have and support a child. But by then she had little choice.

I remember in my own clinic years that when a woman came to our front desk crying and shaking I always knew she had been waylaid by the Fake Clinic directly across the hall from us--the Fake Clinic that advertised Free Pregnancy Testing and Financial Assistance. There was no financial assistance for abortion in Dallas, Texas. We did everything we knew to alert women to its existence including telling everyone who called us that the Fake Clinic was next door. But women who were poor, didn’t speak English, and had the very fewest resources went to the Fake Clinic because they believed they would be able to get a free abortion. During one of the most stressful days of their lives, some of our patients still got confused and went in the wrong door. Sometimes the Fake Clinic would actually send their white-coated volunteers out into the parking lot to take our unwitting patients into their facility--like spiders luring flies to their doom.

We always spent extra time with patients who had been to the Fake Clinic because we knew they hadn’t been told the truth. But I was shocked to really GET how powerful the lies were. I counseled with a patient who had been to the Fake. She said she didn’t feel like she could get up and leave even though she knew it wasn’t the right place, because the woman reminded her of her grandmother and she didn’t want to be rude. In counseling she seemed resolved about her choice, so we did all the usual paperwork and lab work. She was early in pregnancy so an abortion was many times safer than continuing a pregnancy. I went through her abortion with her. After the five-minute procedure she burst into tears and said, “I can’t believe I lived”.

As a result of that experience, we sent a spy over to the Fake Clinic to steal one of their tapes so that we could see what our patients were seeing. We were more than appalled. After that our counseling with victims of the Fakes included extensive debriefing about what they had been told, what they had seen, and how it had affected them. I don’t care how extensive your counseling is, or how skilled, it is damned hard for any woman to feel safe when she been told she will probably die from an abortion.

There are millions of stories of women who have gone to Fakes Clinics. Here’s just one more.

"Then they asked us what we wanted to do and my daughter and I said we decided the best thing for her to do was have an abortion and how much would that cost? The two ladies said 'please wait a minute' and left us ... They came back with a doll and ... scissors ... and said: 'this is what your baby looks like now and we want you to start cutting her up because that's what will happen if you get an abortion - so start cutting!' I grabbed her and threw the doll at those ladies and got out of there fast! I later found out it wasn't a real clinic..." (excerpt from Legal but Out of Reach published by the National Network of Abortion Funds)

With all this evidence, and the founder of this movement himself acknowledging that the purpose of these facilities is to deceive women, what are we to think about legislators who would intentionally subject even one woman to this travesty?

Can it be that they actually hate us because someone told them that Eve was to blame for all the problems in the world? If anyone had any doubts that the recent insane barrage of anti abortion legislation in state after state is based in total disrespect for women, this should make it clear. It truly is a War Against Women.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fun With Catholics

The "Most Holy Roman Catholic Church" -- this is an old one, but a good one.


Summing Up

Here's more "good news" from "Financial Armageddon" - please follow link to original.
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Summing Things Up

Four recent reports more-or-less up where things stand with our so-called recovery:

Few businesses are adding staff --

"Mass. Job Fair Canceled Because of Lack of Jobs" (Associated Press)

TAUNTON -- A Massachusetts employment organization has canceled its annual job fair because not enough companies have come forward to offer jobs.

Richard Shafer, chairman of the Taunton Employment Task Force, says 20 to 25 employers are needed for the fair scheduled for April 6, but just 10 tables had been reserved. One table was reserved by a nonprofit that offers human services to job seekers, and three by temporary employment agencies.

Shafer tells the Taunton Daily Gazette the lack of employers means the task force won't have enough money to properly advertise the fair. --

The task force has been organizing the job fair nearly every year since 1984.

Shafer says the cancellation reflects the current economy -- even though things are getting better, companies are still cautious about hiring full-time workers. --

Those that are hiring are relying on temporary help --

"Temp Work Driving Growth" (The News-Messenger)

Short-term jobs let employers try out workers, test the economic waters

Many of the newest jobs these days come with an expiration date.

Facing economic uncertainty, many companies in this economy have turned to temporary staffing agencies to meet work demands without taking on costly health care benefits, state-mandated unemployment and worker's compensation payments.

Temporary help has been "the main driver of job growth" in the professional and business services industry during the past 18 months, according to a February report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. --

or are paying people less than before --

"Underemployed, Downsized and Living on the Edge" (The Fiscal Times)

Ed Muchnick knows his biggest paydays are behind him. The Mount Laurel, N.J., resident had been making more than $60,000 a year as manager of the children’s clothing shop founded by his parents in 1964. When the store closed in early 2007, Muchnick wanted to stay in retail management. He found a job as an assistant manager at a HomeGoods store in suburban Philadelphia in November 2007, with a salary of $48,000. That lasted two years.

Since then, the 57-year-old Muchnick has struggled to find a permanent job. He worked four months for the Census Bureau, at $17 an hour, and spent 10 weeks as a holiday-season hire at Target, earning $8 an hour. “It’s hell out there,” Muchnick says. He’s given up on landing a job that pays $50,000, let alone the $60,000 he was making five years ago. “It’s discouraging. The big companies are making money. I don’t think they’re hiring, and if they’re hiring, they’re hiring at the lower wages.”

Companies nationwide actually have started hiring again, but Muchnick is right that, at least so far, a disproportionate number of the jobs being created pay less than the positions that have been lost. Since March 2010, the economy has seen a net gain of 1.26 million jobs — a welcome rebound, but still far shy of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the recession.

Yet economists say many of the new positions created are in lower paying occupations. Despite the overall job gains posted last year, companies continued to eliminate management positions, with about 550,000 being lost. “The problem is not just the quantity of new jobs being created, but the quality of those jobs as well,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Toronto-based Capital Economics, wrote in a recent report. He adds that underemployment creates a hidden drag on the economy by discouraging consumer spending. A Gallup poll last year found the underemployed spend 36 percent less than those who consider themselves fully employed. --

or are sending work out to those who will happily settle for less --

"More Businesses Are Outsourcing—to Rural and Small Town U.S.A." (Employment Trends)

Is your small business dealing with an increased workload and more demand from clients and customers? That’s a good thing. But with the economy still uncertain, many of us are leery about taking on full-time employees to help with the workload—even when we’re overwhelmed.

Well, there is a solution—and it’s closer to home than you might think. I first wrote about the trend of “ruralsourcing” on Small Business Trends in the summer of 2010, when several news outlets reported on the practice. Essentially, ruralsourcing means outsourcing jobs—but instead of outsourcing to India or China, the jobs are being outsourced to small and rural communities in the United States.

But profits are way up, so it's all good. Right?

Government Cover-up of Gulf Dolphin Deaths

This from "Naked Capitalism" - please follow link to original.

How many times do we have to be reminded we live in a totalitarian state where corporations call the shots and "We The People" mean NOTHING?
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Sunday, March 27, 2011
Guest Post: On the Government Cover-Up of Gulf Dolphin Deaths

Yves here. This post may strike readers as off topic, but it sits at the locus of several Naked Capitalism topics of interest: the Deepwater Horizon blowout and its aftermath, animals (particularly dolphins, which are more altruistic than people and quite likely as smart), Obama administration duplicity, and reading between the lines of media reports.

By a retired physician who worked several years in the medical communications and pharmaceutical industry who writes as Francois T

From a Reuters story yesterday, “Government tightens lid on dolphin death probe”:

The U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on its probe into scores of unexplained dolphin deaths along the Gulf Coast, possibly connected to last year’s BP oil spill, causing tension with some independent marine scientists.

Wildlife biologists contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to document spikes in dolphin mortality and to collect specimens and tissue samples for the agency were quietly ordered late last month to keep their findings confidential.

The gag order was contained in an agency letter informing outside scientists that its review of the dolphin die-off, classified as an “unusual mortality event (UME),” had been folded into a federal criminal investigation launched last summer into the oil spill.

Cough! Cough! Given the OUTSTANDING record of the Obama administration in the “Get Tough with’em Korporations, Barack!”, are we supposed to believe this grade-AAA bullshit? Continuing:

“Because of the seriousness of the legal case, [You mean, it would get real serious if you don't choke the flow of information?] no data or findings may be released, presented or discussed outside the UME investigative team without prior approval,” the letter, obtained by Reuters, stated.

Inquiring minds wants to know WHOSE approval are we talking about here. A “lawyer” maybe? They’re so damn cognizant of scientific facts, aren’t they? Or maybe a politrouk komissar from the White House, one of those poleznye idioty so dear to Lenin’s disciples!

A number of scientists said they have been personally rebuked by federal officials for “speaking out of turn” to the media about efforts to determine the cause of some 200 dolphin deaths this year, and about 90 others last year, in the Gulf.

Oh! They must take turn to exercise their 1st amendment rights? Oh wait! This is the Obama admin we’re talking about here, the ├╝ber-champion of civil rights. I almost forgot.

Moreover, they said collected samples and specimens are being turned over to the government for analysis under a protocol that will leave independent scientists in the dark about the efficacy and outcome of any laboratory tests.

Some researchers designated as official “partners” in the agency’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network complained such constraints undermine the transparency of a process normally open to review by the scientific community.

“It throws accountability right out the window,” one biologist involved in tracking dolphin deaths for more than 20 years told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “We are confused and … we are angry because they claim they want teamwork, but at the same time they are leaving the marine experts out of the loop completely.”

Huh? “Accountabiwhat?” Well Professor! Haven’t you got the memo yet? For this administration, the definition of “teamwork” is “a lot of people following our orders”. And remember, those inconvenient independent scientists were kept as far away from the leak in its early weeks. Precedents not looking too favorable, are they?
Some question why the Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has taken so long to get samples into laboratories.

“It is surprising that it has been almost a full year since the spill, and they still haven’t selected labs for this kind of work,” said Ruth Carmichael, who studies marine mammals at the independent Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama.

“I can only hope that this process is a good thing. I just don’t know. This is an unfortunate situation.”

NOAA officials expressed sympathy but insisted the control and confidentiality measures were necessary.

The same NOAA who took its darn sweet time in sending submersibles look for oil plumes? The same NOAA that tried to lie to the American public about the flow rate of the spill for the first 2 weeks of this tragedy? I’m sure they’re VERY sympathetic.

“We are treating the evidence, which are the dolphin samples, like a murder case,” said Dr. Erin Fougeres, a marine biologist with the Fisheries Service. “The chain of custody is being closely watched. Every dolphin sample is considered evidence in the BP case now.”

Again, is this remotely credible? Does the go-vermin plan to criminally sue BP for animal cruelty? Puhleeeeze!

Blair Mase, a marine mammal scientist for NOAA, said lab results would go directly back to the Fisheries Service in about two to three months…

As of this week, scientists have counted nearly 200 bottlenose dolphin carcasses found since mid-January along the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, about half of them newly born or stillborn infants.

That tally, about 14 times the numbers averaged during that time of year between 2002 and 2007, coincides with the first dolphin calving season in the northern Gulf since BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded last April.

That is a rather potent indication that something’s very wrong. We wonder if an eventual jury wouldn’t be tempted to find this obvious fact more persuasive than a mind-numbing analysis of hundreds of samples performed by the party who will prosecute BP and without independent review. Hmmm! If I were a BP lawyer…

The blast killed 11 workers and ruptured a wellhead on the sea floor, dumping an estimated 5 million barrels (206 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf over more than three months.

Wasn’t there also this stuff…Corexit? The dispersant that would help dilute the oil so fast, far and wide that toxicity would be far lower than without it? Corexit, that was approved by the government despite strenuous objections from several of their own scientists. Hmmm! If I were a BP lawyer…

Nearly 90 dead dolphins, most of them adults, washed up along the Gulf Coast last year in the weeks and months following the blowout.

The latest spike in deaths, and high concentration of premature infants among them, has led some experts to speculate that oil ingested or inhaled by dolphins during the spill has taken a belated toll on the animals, possibly leading to a wave of dolphin miscarriages.

But most of the specimens collected bear no obvious signs of oil contamination, making lab analysis crucial to understanding what caused the deaths.

If there are no obvious signs, that may bring us back to the Corexit…

Mase said the carcasses also are considered potential evidence in the natural resources damage assessment being conducted in conjunction with civil litigation pursued against BP by the government simultaneously with the criminal probe.

It remains to be seen what will be the DOJ conduct (read: once they get their instructions from the WH) when the analysis of these dolphins remains are done. We still fail to see how this could contribute to an eventual, albeit improbable criminal case against BP. Legal eagles are welcome to chime in here. In any case, optimism is misplaced until proven otherwise. We don’t even know how serious the administration will be in the CIVIL case against BP. Will they go Henry Waxman or Joe Barton on them?

I, For One, Do Not Welcome Our Dumb Robot Overlords

This from Paul Krugman's blog - follow link, etc., etc., etc.


I, For One, Do Not Welcome Our Dumb Robot Overlords

From the FT: stock in Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s company, jumps every time Anne Hathaway, the actress, gets a lot of media play.

Why? The claim is that it’s the fault of robotrading algorithms, which now account for most of the market, and which sometimes rely among other things on trends in news coverage.

That’s the kind of dumb mistake human traders wouldn’t make. Unfortunately, they’d make other kinds of dumb mistakes.

Toots Thielemans - Bye Bye Blackbird

Pistol Packin' Mama by Bing Crosby (Gunsmith Cats)

When I was a wee child, THIS was a song I sang, and sang, and sang. I must have driven my folks CRAZY (that might be one reason)


Saturday, March 26, 2011

500K protest British budget austerity

LONDON, March 26 (UPI) -- A half-million protesters marched in London Saturday against the British government's budget cuts, organizers said.

The march, staged by the Trades Union Congress, proceeded for hours from Victoria Embankment past the Houses of Parliament to Hyde Park, where Labor Party leader Ed Miliband addressed the crowd, the BBC reported.

Sky News and the Daily Mail said the march drew 500,000 people. One union, Unite, said so many members wanted to attend it could not find them enough transport to London.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber told the rally, "We are here to send a message to the government that we are strong and united. We will fight the savage cuts and we will not let them destroy peoples' services, jobs and lives."

Miliband said: "The Tories said I should not come and speak today. But I am proud to stand with you. There is an alternative."

Several groups of black-clad, masked marchers split off and scuffled with police, vandalizing banks, storefronts and hotels, including the Ritz. Police arrested 200 people, Sky News said.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said earlier the government was "inheriting a terrible economic mess [and] we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance."

(please follow link to original)

Losing Our Way

This is Bob Herbert's LAST column for The New York Times -- he will be missed.

Please follow link to original
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So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.

As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.



This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I’m off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at bobherbert88@gmail.com.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sonny Stitt JJ Johnson H. McGhee - Now's the Time

Houston Person - Everything Happens To Me

SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE @ THE TOSHIKO TRIO

Buddy Childers - You Go To My Head

The Ramsey Lewis Trio - Up Tight (Everything's Alright)

THE IN CROWD - RAMSEY LEWIS

US Jesuits agree to school sex abuse pay-out

At least the Catholics are consistent:


An order of US Catholic priests has agreed to pay $166.1m (£103.3m) to hundreds of Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools.

The former students at Jesuit schools in five states of the north-western US said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Under a settlement, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, will also apologise to the victims.

The order had argued paying out abuse claims would cause it to go bankrupt.

"It's a day of reckoning and justice," Clarita Vargas, who said she and two sisters were abused by a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in the state of Washington, told the Associated Press.

"My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better."

The province ran schools in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Most of the alleged victims were Native American. Much of the alleged abuse occurred on Native reservations and in remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.

"No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith," lawyer Blaine Tamaki, who represented about 90 victims in the case, said in a statement.

The pay-out is one of the largest to date in a series of sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church

# 26

Advantage National Bank Group, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2011
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
202-898-3876
Email: lwilliams-young@fdic.gov

The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, Illinois was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation-Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Advantage National Bank Group, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of The Bank of Commerce.

The sole office of The Bank of Commerce will reopen during normal business hours beginning Saturday. The failed bank will operate as a branch of Advantage National Bank Group. Depositors of The Bank of Commerce will automatically become depositors of the assuming bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of The Bank of Commerce should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Advantage National Bank Group that it has completed systems changes to allow other Advantage National Bank Group branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of The Bank of Commerce can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of December 31, 2010, The Bank of Commerce had approximately $163.1 million in total assets and $161.4 million in total deposits. In addition to paying a premium of 0.10% to assume all of the deposits of the failed bank, Advantage National Bank Group agreed to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets.

The FDIC and Advantage National Bank Group entered into a loss-share transaction on $145.7 million of The Bank of Commerce's assets. Advantage National Bank Group will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-591-2916. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., CDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/bankofcommerce.html.

As part of this transaction, the FDIC will acquire a value appreciation instrument. This instrument serves as additional consideration for the transaction.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $41.9 million. Compared to other alternatives, Advantage National Bank Group's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. The Bank of Commerce is the 26th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the third in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Valley Community Bank, St. Charles, on February 25, 2011

Worst Ad Placement Ever

This from Joe.My.God. -- it does show how either clueless, mean, or both our "pro-life" (until birth - and not pro-woman) folks are.

Alaska governor’s pick for key post wants to criminalize adultery, premarital sex

Good old Alaska -- one of the last frontiers of 18th century BIGOTRY! Or, at the leading edge of current Republican "thinking"? - this from Raw Story, please follow link to original. Criminalize ADULTERY?? Does this mean every "evangelical" goes to jail??
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Republican Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell's nominee for the Alaska Judiciary Council would like to see Alaskans prosecuted for having sex outside marriage.

In telephone testimony, Don Haase of Valdez told the state Senate Judiciary Committee that pre-marital sex should be outlawed because it could "cause violence" and "spread disease," according to The Anchorage Daily News.

Haase admitted to the committee that he had failed to disclose that he had been president of Eagle Forum Alaska, a blog that advocates for conservative principles.

Members of the committee noted that one blog post at the website called for the criminalization of adultery.

"Lawmakers and judges in Michigan are holding married couples accountable for their vows of fidelity," Ohio pastor Rod Parsley wrote. "An appeals court has ruled that anyone involved in an extramarital affair can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison."

"Since adultery is a felony in Michigan, the act of having sex outside marriage could put illicit couples behind bars... Perhaps court systems across the nation should treat adultery for what it truly is: lying, cheating and stealing," the post suggested.

Democratic state Sen. Joe Paskvan asked Haase if he thought adultery should be a felony in Alaska.

"I don't see that that would rise to the level of a felony," Haase replied.

"Do you believe it should be a crime?" Paskvan wondered.

"Yeah, I think it's very harmful to have extramarital affairs. It's harmful to children, it's harmful to the spouse who entered a legally binding agreement to marry the person that's cheating on them," Haase said.

"What about premarital affairs -- should that be a crime?" Paskvan pressed.

"I think that would be up to the voters certainly. If it came before (the state) as a vote, I probably would vote for it ... I can see where it would be a matter for the state to be involved with because of the spread of disease and the likelihood that it would cause violence. I can see legitimate reasons to push that as a crime," Haase admitted.

The committee didn't ask about other writings at Eagle Forum Alaska that show a clear anti-gay bias.

"The vast majority of people are opposed to same-sex shack-ups and the very nature of this behavior is so disgusting to many of us that most people would rather not even think about it, much less speak out," Douglas Grimm wrote in one letter posted by Haase.

"Women who engage in sex with other women, and men who have sex with other men, and call it a loving relationship are simply deluding themselves into thinking it is OK. It is just flat out wrong, but as a free country we tolerate many types of distasteful behaviors. Tolerance is OK, but don't expect us to accept it."

As a member of the Alaska Judicial Council, Haase would be responsible for selecting judges. He told the committee that he wouldn't let his personal feelings get in the way of that duty.

Haase said that he opposed judicial activism, citing Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, as an example.
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Now, I have a question. Can we send Newt Gingaringo to jail as a "serial adulterer"?

Paul Krugman: The Austerity Delusion

This by Paul Krugman from "Economists View" - please follow link to original


Paul Krugman: The Austerity Delusion

The right answer is "jobs now, deficits later," but it's not the answer the "serious" people in Washington are pursuing:

The Austerity Delusion, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Portugal’s government has just fallen in a dispute over austerity proposals. Irish bond yields have topped 10 percent for the first time. And the British government has just marked its economic forecast down and its deficit forecast up.

What do these events have in common? They’re all evidence that slashing spending in the face of high unemployment is a mistake. Austerity advocates predicted that spending cuts would bring quick dividends in the form of rising confidence, and that there would be few, if any, adverse effects on growth and jobs; but they were wrong.

It’s too bad, then, that these days you’re not considered serious in Washington unless you profess allegiance to the same doctrine that’s failing so dismally in Europe. ...

Why not slash deficits immediately? Because tax increases and cuts in government spending would depress economies further, worsening unemployment. And cutting spending in a deeply depressed economy is largely self-defeating...: any savings achieved at the front end are partly offset by lower revenue, as the economy shrinks.

So jobs now, deficits later was and is the right strategy. Unfortunately, it’s a strategy that has been abandoned...

Which brings me back to what passes for budget debate in Washington these days.

A serious fiscal plan for America would address the long-run drivers of spending, above all health care costs, and it would almost certainly include some kind of tax increase. But we’re not serious: any talk of using Medicare funds effectively is met with shrieks of “death panels,” and the official G.O.P. position — barely challenged by Democrats — appears to be that nobody should ever pay higher taxes. Instead, all the talk is about short-run spending cuts.

In short, we have a political climate in which self-styled deficit hawks want to punish the unemployed even as they oppose any action that would address our long-run budget problems. And here’s what we know from experience abroad: The confidence fairy won’t save us from the consequences of our folly.

Housing Market: Here's an Amazing Statistic

Say there, how's YOUR recovery going? This from "Seeking Alpha" - please follow link to original for the rest of the story.
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Housing Market: Here's an Amazing Statistic


Earlier this week we have had data from both existing home sales and new home sales. Both have been abysmal.... and I'm not speaking in hyperbole. As I often say, focus on existing home sales because it is generally around 90% of the market - but currently up to 95% since new homes are simply so uncompetitive with so much distressed inventory on the market. That said, in one story I read on the new home sales figures yesterday an amazing statistic:

Sales are now just half the pace of 1963 -- even though there are 120 million more people in the United States now.


Again that speaks to new home sales, rather than the more important existing home sales but still astounding.

1963 population: 190M
Today: 310M

1963 new home sales: 560K
Current pace 2011: 250K
(Worst year ever was 2010 @ 323,000)

Whatever the case, the data is making certain pundits who did declare a housing bottom in 2009... and 2010... look a bit silly. I am sure they will go to their typical revisionist history and/or just repeat it again this year. Eventually they will be right and can claim credit. Indeed it is almost that time of year - spring/early summer buying season - when housing data ALWAYS picks up and the "it's a housing bottom" cadre will come to your friendly national business television station.

With that said we are getting closer to the median housing value I outlandishly proposed in late 2007 when the "housing prices cannot fall nationally" crowd was crowing exceptionally loud. [Dec 6, 2007: Analysis - What Should Median Home Prices be Today?] Unfortunately, our Fed head in chief was one of those believers. Why are we still talking about a housing problem?)..........

Michigan first to act as states weigh reductions in unemployment benefits

No comment necessary - just read this crap. This is NOT "America". Please follow link to original.

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Michigan first to act as states weigh reductions in unemployment benefits


Michigan moved Thursday to significantly cut its unemployment program, becoming the first of what could be a flurry of debt-laden states to reduce aid even as high jobless rates persist.

The Michigan measure reduces the maximum period a person can receive state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks, the lowest in the nation, officials said. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) indicated Thursday that he would sign the bill.

The state’s economic troubles, aggravated by the recession and its shrinking manufacturing base, have turned Michigan into a bellwether of bust. Its unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent — one of the worst in the country.

The move comes as other Republican-dominated legislatures, including Florida’s, are weighing similar efforts to restrict payments to the jobless, and states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are implementing far-reaching, controversial plans to close budget gaps.

Although critics have decried the benefit reductions during a time of high joblessness as part of a political “war on the unemployed,” advocates of the cutbacks say they are necessary to ease the burden on employers, who pay for the programs through a payroll tax.

The cost of providing unemployment payments rose rapidly as the jobless ranks grew with the recession. Some states, including Michigan and Florida, face multibillion-dollar debts as a result, according to Labor Department estimates.

When state unemployment funds are depleted, they borrow from the federal government. Michigan owes the federal government $3.9 billion for the program. By comparison, the state’s proposed budget for next year is $45.9 billion.

“If we don’t solve the deficit problem, there won’t be any benefits for anyone,” said Wendy Block of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied for the bill. “This insures that employers won’t be taxed through the roof for unemployment benefits.”

Opponents, however, argue that it makes little sense to reduce benefits now when many Americans are finding it difficult to get work. The nation’s jobless rate stood at 8.9 percent in February, and nearly 44 percent of the country’s jobless have been out of work for more than six months, according to the Labor Department.

Moreover, opponents fear that Michigan’s approach on unemployment benefits could be copied by other states with energized Republican majorities, just as the collective-bargaining restrictions approved in Wisconsin have been entertained by other states.

“This is frightfully shortsighted for the individual families,” said U.S. Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.). “It turns back the clock on 50 years of these benefits. What concerns me is that it could go viral.”

Since the 1950s, nearly every state has offered at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance.

Federal measures enacted in response to the recent economic downturn extend those benefits to as long as 99 weeks in states with the highest jobless rates – the longest period since the program’s inception. The extended federal benefits expire in January.

Most state unemployment funds have been depleted, and they are now borrowing from the federal government to make their portion of the payments.

The shortfalls can be traced to a failure during the economic boom to properly prepare for a downturn, experts said.

Unemployment benefits are funded by a payroll tax on employers, collected at a rate that is supposed to keep the funds solvent. Firms that fire lots of people are supposed to pay higher rates. Over the boom years, the drive to minimize state taxes on employers reduced revenues, and when the ranks of the unemployed grew during the crisis, the funds could not meet the need.

Collectively, the states owe the federal government $46 billion for the shortfalls in their unemployment funds. Those deficits put pressure on the states to reduce benefits or raise the payroll taxes.

This month, the Florida House approved a measure reducing the maximum benefit period from 26 to as little as 12 weeks while curbing increases in unemployment taxes paid by employers. The jobless rate in Florida is 11.9 percent.

“We are sending a message to the business community that Florida is quickly becoming the most business-friendly state in the country,” said state Rep. Doug Holder (R-Sarasota), the sponsor of the Florida bill.

It would go into effect Aug. 1.

In Arkansas, lawmakers are moving toward freezing unemployment benefits levels while trimming the maximum benefit period for state benefits from 26 to 25 weeks.

“The more that states look at the severity of the solvency problems, the more measures like this will be seriously considered,” said Douglas Holmes, president of UWC, an organization that provides advice on unemployment policy to businesses and some states.

The federal extensions — the latest one pushed forward by President Obama in December — have led to criticism that the unemployment program has morphed from a temporary bridge for laid-off workers into an expensive entitlement, a critique that angers advocates for the unemployed.

“We have had such high unemployment for so long, people maybe don’t have as much sympathy for the jobless as they did in 2008 or 2009,” said Rick McHugh, a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project.

Pointing out that the maximum unemployment benefit in Michigan is $362 a week and $275 a week in Florida, McHugh added that it is unlikely that many people are financially comfortable just collecting unemployment benefits.

The Michigan measure was part of a bill that was necessary to ensure jobless people could receive a 20-week federal extension of unemployment benefits, the governor’s office said. Without it, about 35,000 people would have lost their benefits as of April 1.

A spokesman for Snyder said that he will sign the bill because it ensures that presently unemployed workers will continue to get benefits but that he would have preferred not to reduce the maximum benefit period.

“This makes sure we have that lifeline still in place,” Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said. “It was a necessary compromise. The votes to do anything else weren’t there otherwise.”

Indiana Prosecutor Encouraged 'False Flag' Assault On Walker To Discredit Wisconsin Unions

Everyone who thinks we should "have a dialogue with", or "discuss this like adults", when it comes to Republicans MUST READ THIS.

Crap like this has become so common, it doesn't even merit headlines in our CORPORATE OWNED "mainstream media".

Anyway, this from "Talking Points Memo", please follow link to original.
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Indiana Prosecutor Encouraged 'False Flag' Assault On Walker To Discredit Wisconsin Unions

A deputy prosector in Johnson County, Indiana, has resigned his job after it was revealed that in February, during the large protests in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union bill, he e-mailed Walker's office and recommended that they conduct a "false flag operation" -- to fake an assault or assassination attempt on Walker in order to discredit the unions and protesters.

As Wisconsin Watch, a project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports, Carlos Lam initially denied that he had sent the e-mail, which was part of the tens of thousands of e-mails released in an open-records settlement the Walker administration reached with the local paper the Isthmus and the Associated Press.

When contacted by Wisconsin Watch, Lam had initially denied sending the e-mail, claiming that he had been the victim of identity theft, and said he did not support the criminal activities described in the e-mail: , "I think he's trying to do what he has to do to get his budget balanced. But jeez, that's taking it a little bit to the extreme."

However, Lam admitted late in the afternoon that he did send the e-mail, and resigned his job.

From the report:

After praise for Walker, the email -- sent Feb. 19, during union demonstrations against Walker's budget repair bill -- then took a darker turn. It suggested that the situation in Wisconsin presented "a good opportunity for what's called a 'false flag' operation."

"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions," the email said.

"Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest. Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions. God bless, Carlos F. Lam."

And also:

Cullen Werwie, Walker's press secretary, said no one at the office had seen the email or contacted Lam. Werwie condemned the email's suggestions Monday in a statement to the Center.

"Certainly we do not support the actions suggested in (the) email. Governor Walker has said time and again that the protesters have every right to have their voice heard, and for the most part the protests have been peaceful. We are hopeful that the tradition will continue," Werwie wrote.

This does call to mind Walker's infamous phone call in late February with blogger Ian Murphy, who posed as Republican financier David Koch. During that call, "Koch" asked Walker whether he had thought about "planting some troublemakers" among the protesters. Walker said "we thought about that," but didn't do it.

When asked about this at a press conference, Walker had said, "In my case we ruled it out," and also added: "When he talked about inciting things and 'crushing the bastards,' we get ideas from people all across the state. And we want to have a civil discussion about this and a debate about this, and the fact that we discussed this, and we said it wasn't a good idea."

(Note: As the full transcript of the "Koch" call shows, Walker said that he was worried such a tactic could backfire and increase the pressure for compromise: "My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems.")

Previously in Indiana, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox lost his job after tweeting that the protesters should be dealt with using "live ammunition," following that up with "against thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You're damn right I advocate deadly force."

At the time, the Attorney General's office said in a statement: "We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Go to "Some Assembly Required" - follow link.

here, samples:


Don't Go Near The Water: Water in Tokyo is too radioactive for children and other living things.

Data: When the economy collapsed, the US applied (half-)massive stimulus spending while the GOP yelled for budget cuts and austerity. Things are looking up, but the GOP is still screaming for more hardship, less pity. In Great Britain they went for the budget cuts and austerity like the GOP wants the US to adopt, and collapsed their economy and have set inflation loose. Does this mean that raving liberal Paul Krugman was right all along about the need for a vast government stimulus to lift us out of recession? Nah. See, we haven't cut spending enough yet and we have to give even more money to the rich and the banks and... Of course it does, you idiots!

Thought Experiment: The US debt is a tad over $14 trillion and this year's budget is $1.7 trillion short. With 97% of House Republicans and 85% of the GOP Senators signing on to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform — which is a promise to never ever raise taxes, what programs are going to be cut? Not the military, which is busy getting and guarding resources. Right, social programs. That's been the plan all along – to take as much as possible from the people and deliver it to the rich. What's going on in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan and the rest is not about teacher's unions, it is about rolling back the entire 20th Century. And these are just the out-of-town tryouts. Wait until the GOP brings austerity, contract negation, pension looting and the rest to the whole nation.

Socialism: In Japan, as in the US, corporations do not pay for the damage they do, the damages are socialized. Taxpayers will have to come up with over $300 billion to bail out their nuclear industry and clean up from its mess. Oil and nuclear power are not benign genies, happy to serve us. Nor is coal.

Room With A View: Fox employee Steve Harrigan explained how he earned his Combat Journalism Merit Badge: "I can stand outside on my balcony and report what I see,"

Why Governor LePage Can’t Erase History, and Why We Need a Fighter in the White House

This from Robert Reich's Blog - please follow link to original.

Even he realizes we need a REAL PRESIDENT.
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Why Governor LePage Can’t Erase History, and Why We Need a Fighter in the White House

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Maine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state’s labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic “Rosie the Riveter,” who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.

The LePage Administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.

The Governor’s spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were “not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.”

Are we still in America?

Frances Perkins was the first woman cabinet member in American history. She was also one of the most accomplished cabinet members in history.

She and her boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, came to office at a time when average working people needed help – and Perkins and Roosevelt were determined to give it to them. Together, they created Social Security, unemployment insurance, the right of workers to unionize, the minimum wage, and the forty-hour workweek.

Big business and Wall Street thought Perkins and Roosevelt were not in keeping with pro-business goals. So they and their Republican puppets in Congress and in the states retaliated with a political assault on the New Deal.

Roosevelt did not flinch. In a speech in October 1936 he condemned “business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.”

Big business and Wall Street, he said,

had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.

Fast forward 75 years.

Big business and Wall Street have emerged from the Great Recession with their pockets bulging. Profits and bonuses are as high as they were before the downturn. And they’re spending like mad on lobbying and politics. After the Supreme Court’s disgraceful Citizens United decision, there are no limits.

Pro-business goals are breaking out all over. Governors across America are slashing corporate taxes as they slash state budgets. House and Senate Republicans are intent on deregulating, privatizing, and cutting spending and taxes so their corporate and Wall Street patrons will do even better.

But most Americans are still in desperate trouble. Few if any of the economic gains are trickling down.

That’s why the current Republican assault on workers – on their right to form unions, on unemployment insurance and Social Security, on public employees, and even (courtesy of Governor LePage) on our common memory – is so despicable.

And it’s why we need a President who will fight for workers and fight against this assault — just as Perkins and FDR did.

By the way, Maine’s Governor LePage may be curious to know that the building housing the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington is named the “Frances Perkins Building.” He can find her portrait hanging prominently inside. Also portraits and murals of great leaders of American labor.

A short walk across the mall will bring Governor LePage to an imposing memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, should the Governor wish to visit.

Governor, you might be able to erase some of Maine’s memory, but you’ll have a hard time erasing the nation’s memory – even if it’s not in keeping with your pro-business goals.