Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Ice Storm In The South

So, one of our STAUNCH, anti-Government, anti-tax, anti-damn near anything that even slightly smacks of "big gubmint" is now wondering WHY the government response to their freak "southern ice storm" was not stronger.  When the shit hits the fan, the first place they look for help is the very government they tell you they HATE

They hate public schools, want private EVERYTHING  --  but CRY when "gubmint" can't clear the roads and insure their services are delivered and safety insured.  This right after they DEMAND a tax cut.

Dear sweet Georgia  --  bless your heart  --  why not show us all that "self reliance" you demand other folks must have.

Hell the Northeast was DESTROYED by a once in a lifetime convergence of storms and you called them a bunch of "pussies"  --  BUT you get 3 inches of snow and the @#$^%&%^ world is coming to an end.

GET A GRIP!

Sonny Criss - Black Coffee / Don't Blame Me


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Iceland's big problem: bringing 4% unemployment down to 2%

This from "Hullabaloo" - please follow link to original
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http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/

by digby
At one time there was a big debate about whether or not Iceland came out on top during our current depression, largely due to it's hard core treatment of its banks. It was always pretty obvious that they made the smarter decision.  It looks even more obvious today:

Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save.

Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal.

While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime MinisterSigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high.

“Politicians always have something to worry about,” the 38-year-old said in an interview last week. “We’d like to see unemployment going from where it’s now -- around 4 percent -- to under 2 percent, which may sound strange to most other western countries, but Icelanders aren’t accustomed to unemployment.”

The island’s sudden economic meltdown in October 2008 made international headlines as a debt-fueled banking boom ended in a matter of weeks when funding markets froze. Policy makers overseeing the $14 billion economy refused to back the banks, which subsequently defaulted on $85 billion. The government’s decision to protect state finances left it with the means to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from penury during the worst financial crisis in six decades.
We, on the other hand are making nearly 7% official unemployment (along with many millions not even being counted) the new normal. And we're slashing our meager safety net, even food assistance. But our megabanks are doing very well which is what matters.

Paranoia of the Plutocrats

The latest from Dr. Krugman.  Please follow link to original
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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/opinion/krugman-paranoia-of-the-plutocrats.html?_r=0

Rising inequality has obvious economic costs: stagnant wages despite rising productivity, rising debt that makes us more vulnerable to financial crisis. It also has big social and human costs. There is, for example, strong evidence that high inequality leads to worse health and higher mortality.
But there’s more. Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality — and simultaneously gives these people great power.
The example many are buzzing about right now is the billionaire investor Tom Perkins, a founding member of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Perkins lamented public criticism of the “one percent” — and compared such criticism to Nazi attacks on the Jews, suggesting that we are on the road to another Kristallnacht.
You may say that this is just one crazy guy and wonder why The Journal would publish such a thing. But Mr. Perkins isn’t that much of an outlier. He isn’t even the first finance titan to compare advocates of progressive taxation to Nazis. Back in 2010 Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, declared that proposals to eliminate tax loopholes for hedge fund and private-equity managers were “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
And there are a number of other plutocrats who manage to keep Hitler out of their remarks but who nonetheless hold, and loudly express, political and economic views that combine paranoia and megalomania in equal measure.
I know that sounds strong. But look at all the speeches and opinion pieces by Wall Streeters accusing President Obama — who has never done anything more than say the obvious, that some bankers behaved badly — of demonizing and persecuting the rich. And look at how many of those making these accusations also made the ludicrously self-centered claim that their hurt feelings (as opposed to things like household debt and premature fiscal austerity) were the main thing holding the economy back.
Now, just to be clear, the very rich, and those on Wall Street in particular, are in fact doing worse under Mr. Obama than they would have if Mitt Romney had won in 2012. Between the partial rollback of the Bush tax cuts and the tax hike that partly pays for health reform, tax rates on the 1 percent have gone more or less back to pre-Reagan levels. Also, financial reformers have won some surprising victories over the past year, and this is bad news for wheeler-dealers whose wealth comes largely from exploiting weak regulation. So you can make the case that the 1 percent have lost some important policy battles.
But every group finds itself facing criticism, and ends up on the losing side of policy disputes, somewhere along the way; that’s democracy. The question is what happens next. Normal people take it in stride; even if they’re angry and bitter over political setbacks, they don’t cry persecution, compare their critics to Nazis and insist that the world revolves around their hurt feelings. But the rich are different from you and me.
And yes, that’s partly because they have more money, and the power that goes with it. They can and all too often do surround themselves with courtiers who tell them what they want to hear and never, ever, tell them they’re being foolish. They’re accustomed to being treated with deference, not just by the people they hire but by politicians who want their campaign contributions. And so they are shocked to discover that money can’t buy everything, can’t insulate them from all adversity.
I also suspect that today’s Masters of the Universe are insecure about the nature of their success. We’re not talking captains of industry here, men who make stuff. We are, instead, talking about wheeler-dealers, men who push money around and get rich by skimming some off the top as it sloshes by. They may boast that they are job creators, the people who make the economy work, but are they really adding value? Many of us doubt it — and so, I suspect, do some of the wealthy themselves, a form of self-doubt that causes them to lash out even more furiously at their critics.
Anyway, we’ve been here before. It’s impossible to read screeds like those of Mr. Perkins or Mr. Schwarzman without thinking of F.D.R.’s famous 1936 Madison Square Garden speech, in which he spoke of the hatred he faced from the forces of “organized money,” and declared, “I welcome their hatred.”
President Obama has not, unfortunately, done nearly as much as F.D.R. to earn the hatred of the undeserving rich. But he has done more than many progressives give him credit for — and like F.D.R., both he and progressives in general should welcome that hatred, because it’s a sign that they’re doing something right.

Pete Seeger has died. Another American Treasure gone.

We lost a great man Monday.  Pete Seeger diesd in a hospital in N.Y.  He was 94.

He affected so many lives, was a beacon of light and had the courage of his convictions.  Through his songs he will live forever -- but, he will be missed.






















Monday, January 27, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

June Carter Cash - Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Willie Dixon & Memphis Slim - Go Easy


Howlin' Wolf - "Highway 49"


I Ain't Superstitious - Howlin' Wolf


HOWLIN WOLF - SITTING AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD


Boom! Boom! - John Lee Hooker


Buddy Guy - Five Long Years


Big Joe Turner - Pete Johnson 1938 ~ Roll 'Em Pete


MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT Lonesome Valley (1965)


" Ragged And Dirty " WILLIE BROWN (1942) Delta Blues Guitar Legend


Champion Jack Dupree - Alberta


CHAMPION JACK DUPREE: "junker's blues", 1940


Sweet Home Chicago


'You Was Born To Die' BLIND WILLIE McTELL (1933) Blues Guitar Legend


'Going Up The Country' BARBECUE BOB, Blues Legend


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A visit to "Some Assembly Required"

Time for a visit to "Some Assembly Required".  I hope you have all maintained loyalty to that site - it gives a clear summary and leads to so many interesting places.

Please follow link to original.
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http://ckm3.blogspot.com/

Half A Loaf, Or Less: The Chicago diocese has released information on about half of the pedophilic priests they've acknowledged, but the files released only dealt with pre-1996 abuse and only identified either suspended or defrocked clerics. None related to abuse by current clergy, giving the undoubtedly false impression that the abuse had stopped and the church was no longer hiding the criminals. 


Mirabile dictu! Louisiana courts have found that the funding of the state's voucher program with public school funds is unconstitutional. Courts also have found Gov. Jindal's war on public school teachers was unconstitutional. And the Fourth Circuit Court ruled that the 7,000 teachers fired amid the devastation of Huricane Katrina were wrongfully terminated and due back wages. 


Clueless: A Pennsylvania Republican honored MLK by proposing a bill that would legalize discrimination. A Michigan Republican wants to “herd all the Indians” into Detroit and fence them in. A Florida Republican says “It's time to arrest [Obama] and hang him high.” Kentucky Republicans want to redefine abortion as domestic violence And best of all Missouri Republicans have drafted a bill that would allow parents to pull their children from science classes that are teaching the theory of evolution. SC Republican state senator Lee Bright (irony, f'sure) is trying to gain Lindsey Graham's seat in order to prevent armed IRS-trained agents from using assault weapons to force you to use Obamacare. It's not so much these people say such things, it's that they believe them.

Clarifying the Obvious: “American capitalism as currently constituted is undermining the foundations of middle-class society.” Seems obvious. A class war is going on between the takers and the rest of us, the 99%. America’s affluent are affluent not because they made the right lifestyle choices. got good educations, and so on. They are affluent because we let them steal from the rest of us. End of story, move along.

Asked & Answered: What's the Best Way to Help the Poor? Jobs. What's the best way to create jobs? Build and repair our infrastructure through government spending. Won't that add to the deficit? Yes, and that may be a problem someday, but it'll subtract from the poverty today. "And an increase in the minimum wage is better than doing nothing at all.”

 Trendsetting: Last year was California's driest on record and this year conditions are worse. The Sierra Nevada snowpack - which turns into irrigation and drinking water in the summer- is now at about 10 to 30% of its normal depth. The rainy season is nearly over, what little there was of it, and NOAA experts agree more of the same is the most likely forecast.


 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Texas

Was at a gun show this weekend.  After Sat. I was ready to leave Texas.  One after another of the "Ted Cruzites" babbling a brook of insane blather.  Super "patriots" who want to secede, eliminate "government handouts", eliminate government, put an end to all this "equality" stuff, and just trust both "the market" and our corporations.  Aging white men who hate change  --  and the fact they are getting old and their lives never matched up to any dream they ever had.

Then, on Sunday we met one after another of the REAL Texas "good old boys".  Kind, funny, good folks who are ready to give a helping hand to any of their friends  --  the kind of folks I met when I would visit friends down here.  Really good people with no pretense, no hatred, no putting folks in categories.  Folks who judge you by what you do, how you act, and if you stand by your word.  Folks where actions speak volumes  --  and the rest is crap.

Once again, I am content with my choice of Texas. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Now We Understand Why Our "Betters" Have Been Mounting A War Against Unions For The Last 60 years -- They Want Us BROKE (and POOR)


Why?

Why all the controversy over N.J. Governor Christies methods or intentions.  We know he's a boorish bully - he has proven that over the years.  Now we also know he's either incompetent or a thoughtless boorish bully who thinks of NOTHING or NO ONE in his quest for "vengeance".

These are not qualities we want in a "leader".  True, we have survived worse  --  but, I think we need some real leaders now.  Not just careerists or folks who want to get rich - but one of those rare leaders who actually thinks more of the USA than of his future.  Chris Christie does not appear to be one of those folks   ---   no matter how you look at him.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

The War Over Poverty

Here's the latest column from Paul Krugman  --  please follow link to original
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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/opinion/krugman-the-war-over-poverty.html

Fifty years have passed since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. And a funny thing happened on the way to this anniversary. Suddenly, or so it seems, progressives have stopped apologizing for their efforts on behalf of the poor, and have started trumpeting them instead. And conservatives find themselves on the defensive.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. For a long time, everyone knew — or, more accurately, “knew” — that the war on poverty had been an abject failure. And they knew why: It was the fault of the poor themselves. But what everyone knew wasn’t true, and the public seems to have caught on.
The narrative went like this: Antipoverty programs hadn’t actually reduced poverty, because poverty in America was basically a social problem — a problem of broken families, crime and a culture of dependence that was only reinforced by government aid. And because this narrative was so widely accepted, bashing the poor was good politics, enthusiastically embraced by Republicans and some Democrats, too.
Yet this view of poverty, which may have had some truth to it in the 1970s, bears no resemblance to anything that has happened since.
For one thing, the war on poverty has, in fact, achieved quite a lot. It’s true that the standard measure of poverty hasn’t fallen much. But this measure doesn’t include the value of crucial public programs like food stamps and the earned-income tax credit. Once these programs are taken into account, the data show a significant decline in poverty, and a much larger decline in extreme poverty. Other evidence also points to a big improvement in the lives of America’s poor: lower-income Americans are much healthier and better-nourished than they were in the 1960s.
Furthermore, there is strong evidence that antipoverty programs have long-term benefits, both to their recipients and to the nation as a whole. For example, children who had access to food stamps were healthier and had higher incomes in later life than people who didn’t.
And if progress against poverty has nonetheless been disappointingly slow — which it has — blame rests not with the poor but with a changing labor market, one that no longer offers good wages to ordinary workers. Wages used to rise along with worker productivity, but that linkage ended around 1980. The bottom third of the American work force has seen little or no rise in inflation-adjusted wages since the early 1970s; the bottom third of male workers has experienced a sharp wage decline. This wage stagnation, not social decay, is the reason poverty has proved so hard to eradicate.
Or to put it a different way, the problem of poverty has become part of the broader problem of rising income inequality, of an economy in which all the fruits of growth seem to go to a small elite, leaving everyone else behind.
So how should we respond to this reality?
The conservative position, essentially, is that we shouldn’t respond. Conservatives are committed to the view that government is always the problem, never the solution; they treat every beneficiary of a safety-net program as if he or she were “a Cadillac-driving welfare queen.” And why not? After all, for decades their position was a political winner, because middle-class Americans saw “welfare” as something that Those People got but they didn’t.
But that was then. At this point, the rise of the 1 percent at the expense of everyone else is so obvious that it’s no longer possible to shut down any discussion of rising inequality with cries of “class warfare.” Meanwhile, hard times have forced many more Americans to turn to safety-net programs. And as conservatives have responded by defining an ever-growing fraction of the population as morally unworthy “takers” — a quarter, a third, 47 percent, whatever — they have made themselves look callous and meanspirited.
You can see the new political dynamics at work in the fight over aid to the unemployed. Republicans are still opposed to extended benefits, despite high long-term unemployment. But they have, revealingly, changed their arguments. Suddenly, it’s not about forcing those lazy bums to find jobs; it’s about fiscal responsibility. And nobody believes a word of it.
Meanwhile, progressives are on offense. They have decided that inequality is a winning political issue. They see war-on-poverty programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and the earned-income tax credit as success stories, initiatives that have helped Americans in need — especially during the slump since 2007 — and should be expanded. And if these programs enroll a growing number of Americans, rather than being narrowly targeted on the poor, so what?
So guess what: On its 50th birthday, the war on poverty no longer looks like a failure. It looks, instead, like a template for a rising, increasingly confident progressive movement.

Outsourcing Pays Big to Private Companies While Americans Suffer

This from "The Economic Populist"  --  follow link to original.

Once again we have PROOF there are NO savings from "privatization".  The only folks that do well are the contractors and (I suspect) the politicians.
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http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/outsourcing-pays-big-private-companies-while-americans-suffer-5489

Remember how outsourcing was shoved down the throats of the American people by claiming it would save money and was more efficient?  Guess what, not only is costing more, the services now provided are dismal failures.  A new report, Out of Control describes the abysmal state and consequences of outsourcing public services.  Not only did America lose these jobs in many cases, taxpayers have lined the pockets of private enterprises while receiving less and paying more.
The report goes through a litany of examples to show privatization of public services leaves little accountability and opens avenues to skirt public disclosure  This is in addition to charging more for receiving less.  Through contract law, many local and State governments cannot even fire these private enterprises and must guarantee payment even when the contracted services are negligent or non-existent.
Probably the most egregious report example is the systemic endorsement of child abuse by using a for profit, private contractor for foster homes.  Notice in the below description nothing happened to investigate or cancel the privatization contract until the business failed to file financial forms.  Meanwhile a host of kids are emotionally scarred for life.
Los Angeles County continued to annually renew a foster care services contract with an outfit called Wings of Refuge. Despite the aspirational name, multiple reports surfaced of children placed in homes where they experienced severe abuse, including cases in which children were beaten and locked in their rooms for days. For years Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services renewed the company’s $3 million annual contract, making it one of the largest private foster care providers in the county, responsible for thousands of vulnerable children. The county only canceled its contract after the contractor failed to file required financial forms for three years, had accumulated $458,000 in delinquent payroll taxes and was more than $2 million dollars in debt, according to licensing records. Los Angeles County admits that foster care contractors are only audited once a decade and audits can take years to complete, and carry little or no punishment.
Generally speaking, it seems the most incompetent and inefficient software development companies are the ones who obtain government contracts.  We have never seen such absurdities.  Over and over again projects cost millions, take years and result in nothing.  This is when there are hundreds of thousands capable U.S. technical workers who are out of a job available for work.  There is no doubt U.S. workers could create the same desired functionality in a few months time with a price tag much less than what is being paid.  Yet these American workers are not hired, instead these businesses most often import foreign workers and offshore outsource.  The report gives one example of a software contract ripoff, but there are many others, including the infamous Obamacare website and exchange system.
The report mentions a project to computerize New York City workers' time cards.  It took the city 11 years to do anything about this massive contract rip-off.  The original contract by itself is an obscene amount.  For one system, $63 million was awarded.  One could easily create 10 start-ups and 10 computerized time sheet software packages in a year for that large of a contract sum.  Not only did New York City award this absurd original amount of money, they keep paying and paying while no such software package materialized and the contract billings eventually exceeded $700 million!
In 1998, New York City contracted with a private company on a project called CityTime, an effort to save money by consolidating and automating records of the time clocked by city workers. The CityTime project was originally supposed to cost $63 million. But after 12 years and many missed deadlines, the project remained unfinished and cost taxpayers more than $700 million — a 1,000% increase from the original contract amount.
There are also the denial of services through private contracts.  Kansas privatized Medicaid.  These contractors are in turn denying services to the severely disabled, whose very life depends on receiving care.  Some Medicaid beneficiaries need ventilators, and are unable to physically respond if a breathing tube falls out of place or the ventilator fails.  Through their private Medicaid contractors, Kansas is reducing the hours assistance to the severely disabled can be available to 40 hours a week.  This means if something goes wrong with the breathing system during the other 80 hours, that Kansas Medicaid recipient has about 3 minutes to live.  Kansas privatized their state Medicaid and the result is probably killing off a few recipients.  Nice budget reduction strategy huh?
Indiana killed off a few residents too, thanks to their private contract with IBM to manage social services.  After a nun suffering from cancer was denied benefits, Indiana tried to cancel the contract with IBM.  Enter contract law.  Indiana cannot dump IBM for they signed a contract and trying to get out of it has resulted in an ongoing lengthy legal battle.  Meanwhile Indiana residents still suffer at the hands of IBM.
These same contractors obtaining overpriced contracts through privatization pay their workers little.  There are now two contract workers per federal employee and that ratio is getting worse.  Look at this statistic from the report.  Privatization of government is creating a nation of wage slaves.
Of the 5.4 million people working for federal service contractors in 2008,an estimated 80% earned less than the living wage for their city or region.
There are a host of other safety issues resulting from outsourcing government services.  There is increased violence and lax security at for profit prisons.  Toll road privatization resulted in these new for profit owners refusing to close roads during state emergencies and even charging taxpayers for the privilege of area evacuation during a disaster.  Many privatized prisons also have prisoner quotas.  In other words, to be profitable, a steady stream of criminals is required and the prison contract terms incentivize keeping people locked up.
The outsourcing of government to private, for profit businesses is so bad, it costs as much as $763,029 per contract worker.  Beltway Bandits are raping and pillaging the government and all through privatization, not a weapon drawn.  DoD contractors cost three times as much as a federal civilian employee, yet Congress enacts hiring freezes and sequestration layoffs while passing a budget that leaves the unemployed destitute and gives the DoD $632.8 billion.
The In the Public Interest report has a flurry of policy recommendations to stop these for profit businesses turning a buck by inflicting pain and suffering on America.  They recommend transparency, accountability, annual contract reviews, contract termination and recourse clauses, wage and benefit requirements for contract workers and mandatory contract bidding for the job by existing public workers.  The problem is corruption is so systemic, we don't see this mess getting cleaned up anytime soon.  Until cronyism is defeated and government stops being a conduit for corporate agendas, how to obtain the power to stop all of this is anyone's guess.  At least some groups are exposing what's really going on.  Your tax dollars are being used to line the pockets of big business and once again the citizens and residents of governments are getting the shaft.

Freedom

Here's a little tid-bit from "Lawyers, Guns, & Money"  --  please follow link to original.

When will poor folks learn that the despised government is the only thing that can possibly protect them from the misdeeds of corporations?  After all, the ONLY thing corporations are supposed to do is MAKE A PROFIT, and shield stockholders from liability.
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http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/01/freedom

I now see why the Republicans passed the bill to gut Superfund. It’s clearly unnecessary, what with a company actually named Freedom Industries taking care of the good people of West Virginia.
Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the cause and extent of the incident remained unclear.
The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. About 100,000 water customers, or 300,000 people total, were affected, state officials said they reported in requesting the federal declaration.
Shortly after the Thursday spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customer of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and overran a containment area. Officials from Freedom, a manufacturer of chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries, hadn’t commented since the spill, but a woman who answered the phone at the company said it would issue a statement later Friday.
Now that’s some clean coal! Freedom indeed!!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why The Republican’s Old Divide-and-Conquer Strategy — Setting Working Class Against the Poor — Is Backfiring

The latest from Robert Reich.  Please follow link to original.

Pray he's accurate.
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http://robertreich.org/


For almost forty years Republicans have pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy intended to convince working-class whites that the poor were their enemies.
The big news is it’s starting to backfire.
Republicans told the working class that its hard-earned tax dollars were being siphoned off to pay for “welfare queens” (as Ronald Reagan decorously dubbed a black single woman on welfare) and other nefarious loafers. The poor were “them” — lazy, dependent on government handouts, and overwhelmingly black — in sharp contrast to “us,” who were working ever harder, proudly independent (even sending wives and mothers to work, in order to prop up family incomes dragged down by shrinking male paychecks), and white.
It was a cunning strategy designed to split the broad Democratic coalition that had supported the New Deal and Great Society, by using the cleavers of racial prejudice and economic anxiety. It also conveniently fueled resentment of government taxes and spending.
The strategy also served to distract attention from the real cause of the working class’s shrinking paychecks — corporations that were busily busting unions, outsourcing abroad, and replacing jobs with automated equipment and, subsequently, computers and robotics.
But the divide-and-conquer strategy is no longer convincing because the dividing line between poor and middle class has all but disappeared. “They” are fast becoming “us.”
Poverty is now a condition that almost anyone can fall into. In the first two years of this recovery, according to new report from Census Bureau, about one in three Americans dropped into poverty for at least two to six months.
Three decades of flattening wages and declining economic security have taken a broader toll. Nearly 55 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 have experienced at least a year in poverty or near poverty (below 150 percent of the poverty line). Half of all American children have at some point during their childhoods relied on food stamps.
Fifty years ago, when Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty,” most of the nation’s chronically poor had little or no connection to the labor force, while most working-class Americans had full-time jobs.
This distinction has broken down as well. Now a significant percentage of the poor are working but not earning enough to get themselves and their families out of poverty. And a growing portion of the middle class finds themselves in the same place — often in part-time or temporary positions, or in contract work.
Economic insecurity is endemic. Working-class whites who used to be cushioned against the vagaries of the market are now fully exposed to them. Trade unions that once bargained on behalf of employees and protected their contractual rights have withered. Informal expectations of lifelong employment with a single company are gone. Company loyalty has become a bad joke.
Financial markets are now calling the shots — forcing companies to suddenly uproot, sell out to other companies, transfer whole divisions abroad, liquidate unprofitable units, or adopt new software that suddenly renders old skills obsolete.
Because money moves at the speed of an electronic impulse while human beings move at the speed of human beings, the humans — most of them hourly workers but many white collar as well — have been getting shafted.
This means sudden and unexpected poverty has become a real possibility for almost everyone these days. And there’s little margin of safety. With the real median household income continuing to drop, 65 percent of working families are living from paycheck to paycheck.
Race is no longer a dividing line, either. According to Census Bureau numbers, two-thirds of those below the poverty line at any given point identify themselves as white.
This new face of poverty — a face that’s both poor, near-poor, and precarious working middle, and that’s simultaneously black, Latino, and white  — renders the old Republican divide-and-conquer strategy obsolete. Most people are now on the same losing side of the divide. Since the start of the recovery, 95 percent of the economy’s gains have gone to the top 1 percent.
Which means Republican opposition to extended unemployment insurance, food stamps, jobs programs, and a higher minimum wage pose a real danger of backfiring on the GOP.
Just look at North Carolina, a bell-weather state, where Democratic Senator Kay Hagan, up for re-election, is doing well by attacking Republicans back home as “irresponsible and cold-hearted” for slashing unemployment benefits and social services. The state Democratic Party is highlighting her Republican opponent’s “long record of demeaning statements against those struggling to make ends meet.”  (Tom Tillis, the speaker of the State, had spoken of the need  “to divide and conquer” people on public assistance, and called criticisms of the cuts as “whining coming from losers.”)
The new economy has been especially harsh for the bottom two-thirds of Americans. It’s not hard to imagine a new political coalition of America’s poor and working middle class, bent not only on repairing the nation’s frayed safety nets but also on getting a fair share of the economies’ gains.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Growing Up Unvaccinated

I was born in 1939.  never had ANY vaccine against the typical childhood diseases  --  as a result I had just about ALL of them  --  measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox, German measles, etc., etc.  I missed almost an entire year of school.  Had this during WWII and just after --  no antibiotics.  Was seen from then on as a "sickly child", "delicate", etc.  Affected my relationships (was teased and bullied a lot), how I was perceived by others.

I was also told that my having measles while my permanent teeth were forming upset my calcium metabolism, leading to my bad teeth, soft teeth, and a lifetime of oral problems.

As you can see, I support vaccinations  --  I was told any one of those "childhood diseases" could have killed me, and having them one after another was a nightmare.  I also had some others that were more than just a cold or flu  --  something akin to scarlet fever, but not quite, and a multitude of ear infections along with sinus problems  --  I guess I was a sickly child after all.

Please read the following  --  follow link to original.
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http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/

I am the 70s child of a health nut. I wasn’t vaccinated. I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar til I was one, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy, we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil. I had an outdoor lifestyle; I grew up next to a farm, walked everywhere, did sports and danced twice a week, drank plenty of water. I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunch box once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit like all the other kids. We only ate (organic local) meat maybe once or twice a week and my mother and father cooked everything from scratch – I have yet to taste a Findus crispy pancake and oven chips were reserved for those nights when mum and dad had friends over and we got a “treat.”
As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox, some of which are vaccine preventable. In my twenties I got precancerous HPV and spent 6 months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.
So having the “natural immunity sterilised out of us” just doesn’t cut it for me. How could I, with my idyllic childhood and my amazing health food, get so freaking ill all the time? My mother was the biggest health freak around–she would put most of my current “crunchy” friends to shame. She didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke, she didn’t do drugs and we certainly weren’t allowed to watch whatever we wanted on telly or wear plastic shoes or any of that stuff. She LIVED alternative health. And you know what? I’m glad she gave us the great diet that we had, I’m glad that she cared about us in that way.
But it just didn’t stop me getting childhood illnesses.
My two vaccinated children, on the other hand, have rarely been ill, have had antibiotics maybe twice in their lives, if that (not like me who got so many illnesses which needed treatment with antibiotics that I developed a resistance to them, which led me to be hospitalized with penicillin-resistant quinsy at 21–you know that old fashioned disease that killed Queen Elizabeth I and which was almost wiped out through use of antibiotics).
My kids have had no childhood illnesses other than chickenpox, which they both contracted while still breastfeeding. They too grew up on a healthy diet, homegrown organics etc. Not to the same extent as I did, though, as I was not quite as strict as my mother, but they are both healthier than I have ever been.
I find myself wondering about the claim that complications from childhood illnesses are extremely rare but that “vaccine injuries” are rampant. If this is the case, I struggle to understand why I know far more people who have experienced complications from preventable childhood illnesses than I have EVER met with complications from vaccines. I have friends who became deaf from measles. I have a partially sighted friend who contracted rubella in the womb. My ex got pneumonia from chickenpox. A friend’s brother died from meningitis.
Anecdotal evidence is nothing to base decisions on. But when facts and evidence-based science aren’t good enough to sway someone’s opinion, then this is where I come from. After all, anecdotes are the anti-vaccine supporter’s way. Well, this is my personal experience. And my personal experience prompts me to vaccinate my children and myself. I got the flu vaccine recently, and I am getting the whooping cough booster to protect my unborn baby. My natural immunity from having whooping cough at age 5 will not protect him once he’s born.
I understand, to a point, where the anti-vaccine parents are coming from. Back in the 90s when I was a concerned, 19-year-old mother, frightened by the world I was bringing my child into, I was studying homeopathy, herbalism and aromatherapy; I believed in angels, witchcraft, clairvoyants, crop circles, aliens at Nazca, giant ginger mariners spreading their knowledge to the Aztecs, the Incas and the Egyptians and that I was somehow personally blessed by the Holy Spirit with healing abilities. I was having my aura read at a hefty price and filtering the fluoride out of my water. I was choosing to have past life regressions instead of taking anti-depressants. I was taking my daily advice from tarot cards. I grew all my own veg and made my own herbal remedies. I was so freaking crunchy that I literally crumbled. It was only when I took control of those paranoid thoughts and fears about the world around me and became an objective critical thinker that I got well. It was when I stopped taking sugar pills for everything and started seeing medical professionals that I began to thrive physically and mentally.
If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines. But not everyone around you is that strong, not everyone has a choice, not everyone can fight those illnesses, and not everyone can be vaccinated. If you have a healthy child, then your healthy child can cope with vaccines and can care about those unhealthy children who can’t. Teach your child compassion, and teach your child a sense of responsibility for those around them. Don’t teach your child to be self serving and scared of the world in which it lives and the people around him/her. And teach them to LOVE people with ASD or any other disability for that matter, not to label them as damaged.
And lastly but most importantly for me – knowingly exposing your child to childhood illnesses is cruel; even without complications these diseases aren’t exactly pleasant. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy watching children suffer even with a cold or a hurt knee. If you’ve never had these illnesses you don’t know how awful they are–I do. Pain, discomfort, the inability to breathe or to eat or to swallow, fever and nightmares, itching all over your body so much that you can’t stand lying on bed sheets, losing so much weight you can’t walk properly, diarrhea that leaves you lying prostrate on the bathroom floor, the unpaid time off work for parents (and if you’re self employed that means NO INCOME), the quarantine, missing school, missing parties, the worry, the sleepless nights, the sweat, the tears and the blood, the midnight visits to A and E, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on your own because no one will sit near you because they’re rightfully scared of those spots all over your kids face.
Those of you who have avoided childhood illnesses without vaccines are lucky. You couldn’t do it without us pro-vaxxers. Once the vaccination rates begin dropping, the less herd immunity will be able to protect your children. The more people you convert to your anti-vax stance, the quicker that luck will run out.
Amy Parker is a 37 year old mother of two teenagers, with a new arrival on the way. She was brought up in the idyllic countryside of the Lake District, England by health conscious parents–an artist and a ballet teacher. She currently lives on the Fylde coast where she teaches piano and singing.  Amy runs arts and crafts workshops for children and adults.

Monday, January 6, 2014

More Than a "Double Standard"

So, I recently read that the UPS/FedEx delivery failures are "no big deal"   ----   BUT   ----   let the US Post Office make ONE mistake and it is PROOF, PROOF I tell you, that the gubment kain't do squat (or words to that effect).

Interesting, no?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reminder: walking joke "economist" Arthur Laffer was dead wrong, as usual by David Atkins

This from "Hullabaloo"  --  please follow link to orignal
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http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/


Via Joseph Weisenthal on Twitter, it's worth reminding the world what noted conservative "economist" Arthur Laffer (he of the Laffer Curve) predicted for the economy in 2009:


Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates

Here we stand more than a year into a grave economic crisis with a projected budget deficit of 13% of GDP...

With the crisis, the ill-conceived government reactions, and the ensuing economic downturn, the unfunded liabilities of federal programs -- such as Social Security, civil-service and military pensions, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Medicare and Medicaid -- are over the $100 trillion mark. With U.S. GDP and federal tax receipts at about $14 trillion and $2.4 trillion respectively, such a debt all but guarantees higher interest rates, massive tax increases, and partial default on government promises.

But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.
As Paul Krugman often notes, almost no one in the conservative movement is ever accountable for being consistently and demonstrably wrong about everything. Not only did the stimulus and quantitative easing not cause inflation and higher prices, they frankly didn't go far enough. What they did was help create bubbles in assets like stocks and housing, but that alone doesn't lead to widespread inflation or higher interest rates (neither of which are necessarily a bad thing in moderation.)

What's wrong with the economy has nothing to do with the deficit, the ACA, government spending, regulation, or anything remotely related to what any conservative pundit might blather about. The weakness in the economy is a function of wages that are too law and jobs that are too few. And given the outlandish stock prices, corporate profits and executive salaries over the last few years, any claims that businesses are too overtaxed or overregulated to create jobs are an outright joke.

Everything conservative economists say is an attempt to district from the most dangerous truth they face: that corporate profits and stock prices are at record highs, but that's not helping create middle jobs and prosperity. If they ever admit that simple truth, the whole game is up.

But remember: they're wrong about everything. The disconnect between profits and salaries, stock prices and jobs, and assets and wages is all that matters in the economy. The rest is a sideshow, and any Democrat claiming progressive credentials without talking about this disconnect is a fraud who only hurts the country in the long run. The current situation is unsustainable, and someone will take the blame when it all comes crashing down. Democrats' only chance is to be like Elizabeth Warren, calling out the problems so that when the dam breaks they can have anti-establishment solutions ready at hand.

Middle East

I'm really tired of all the supposed "progressives" who vilify Israel yet give the Palestinians a pass on damn near everything.

As an example, they excuse virulent misogyny by saying "it's custom", or "it's a part of their culture"  --  this from folks who would not stand for it in their "culture".  Here's a clue  --  it has been a part of OUR "culture" since FOREVER, yet we have managed to change  --  somewhat.

Refusing to accept women as human beings is a non starter in my book.  Muslims were not always quite as anti-everything   ---   or so I've been told.  Until they are willing to give the 21st Century a try I'd say we continue our total support of Israel  --  as long as they continue to control their rabid fundamentalist right-wing.

Next, I just saw this:  " Memo From Jerusalem: Sticking Point in Peace Talks: Recognition of a Jewish State". 

 If the Palestinians cannot bring themselves to accept a functioning Jewish State, I'd say all bets are off.  They have been attacking, at one level or another since the very beginning.  If the USA were under such attack, we would have totally destroyed the aggressors, and claimed to be a "peace loving nation", while waging war.  For some reason we do not allow Israel the same latitude.

You cannot "love your neighbor" when he is attempting to kill you, not unless you want to die to "prove" you "love peace".  It seems many Palestinians think "peace" will only come when all the Jews are either gone or dead.

THAT'S NOT "PEACE".