Wednesday, June 29, 2011

President Obama News Conference

President Obama News Conference

President Obama holds a news conference in the East Room of the White House to answer questions on the deficit reduction negotiations and other topics. June 29, 2011.

Latest from Voter Suppression 2012 Edition: North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio

hat tip -ProfGeo

Good News to report.


North Carolina Dem Governor Vetoes GOP Voter-ID Bill

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) has vetoed a Voter-ID bill passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. The proposed law was part of a wave of similar bills that have been pushed by Republican-led legislatures in the wake of the 2010 elections. Like those, it would have required voters to show certain approved forms of photo identification at their polling places, or else cast provisional ballots and then have to prove their eligibility later.

"This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters," Perdue wrote in her veto announcement.

She also added an allusion to North Carolina's past as a segregated, Jim Crow state before the Civil Rights movement: "There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it."

Perdue's veto is likely to succeed, rather than be overridden. The CBS affiliate in Raleigh points out that while the bill had passed the state Senate by a veto-proof margin, it had in fact only passed the state House by a margin of 62-51, short of the 72 votes that would be needed to override the veto in that chamber.

Perdue's full veto message:

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Prosser Has ISSUES With Women In Authority


Wis. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley: Justice Prosser 'Put His Hands Around My Neck In Anger In A Chokehold'
Eric Kleefeld | June 26, 2011, 12:53PM

New details are emerging in this weekend's story that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser -- a member of the court's 4-3 conservative majority who was just re-elected to a ten-year term in a heated race that involved a recount and vote-tabulating controversies -- allegedly attacked liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument over the court's recent decision regarding the upholding of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. Now, Bradley is speaking up, and saying publicly that she was assaulted by Prosser.

"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source who is on Prosser's side of the argument accused Bradley of initiating the violence. "She charged him with fists raised," the source told the paper, saying that Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture" to block her, and made contact with her neck. Bradley is then said to have immediately complained of being choked, while another, unnamed Justice responded, "You were not choked."

In response, Bradley told the paper: "You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin.

So, let's get this straight - she FORCED him to CHOKE HER.

G-T-F-O-H with that.

REMEMBER, he had issues with another judge. A FEMALE judge - threatening her, to DESTROY her.

Now, he put his HANDS on another female judge.

3 for 1: Gene Chandler, Black Keys and Quincy Jones

Black Women, When You See Your Image on Television, Do You Like What You See?

Sorry for scraping from the bottom of the sewage pit for this one, but this has been on my mind. I despise nearly all of Black pop culture and therefore I, for the most part, avoid anything that may be related… except when I am trying to make some sort of social point or highlight an issue…. which is what I am doing here.

Black women, when you see your image in media, particularly on Television, do you like what you see?

Over the Spring and Summer I was able to catch a few episodes of “Reality” programs that - to put it nicely- show the worst examples of black women. I am not an avid Reality TV watcher…or even an avid TV watcher in general, so I only caught a few episodes of some of the worst offending programs - watching them out of curiosity more than anything else. But it doesn’t take an avid viewer to see how bad the images are. I raise the question above because I have been left scratching my head at the absence of an uproar on the part of black women against these images. I wonder if the silence equals acceptance of the imagery and of the reinforcing of the stereotypes that we are all aware of. In fact, beyond what is mostly silence… I have read/heard black women doing more to praise these characters than challenge them, or the stereotypes they perpetuate. Even if some of the images are true (and some are considering these are programs following women who are “supposedly“ being themselves) it doesn't mean other black women shouldn't challenge them.

There have been a rash of programs launching over the last couple of years that are not flattering to Black women, or Black Americans more generally. This caught my attention because in the background of this buffoonery, we have had the ongoing debate about single black women and the difficulties of finding partners. So this presented an interesting contrast that jumped out at me. The whole time, I am thinking to myself…. well these programs are not helping you. That makes the silence of black women all the more baffling.

Four programs stand out (but certainly they aren’t the limit): 1. The Real Housewives of Atlanta; 2. Basketball Wives; 3. The last Season of the Celebrity Apprentice; and 4. The Braxton’s.

The women in these programs always seem to be shining examples of the kinds of women who I would want to run away from as fast as I could. I would want nothing to do with them. I surely wouldn’t want any of them to be the mother of my children. That’s something that hits me right off the bat. Each show had various levels of ignorance and crazy. The worst display of the whole angry, loud, rude, abrasive, aggressive black woman had to be the Celebrity Apprentice, with “NeNe” Leakes, and Star Jones. Off the charts crazy. What’s sad is that I can’t call it a twisted and completely unfounded stereotype because I have seen this behavior first hand… repeatedly. My problem with the entertainment industry is, there seems to be a pattern where they are making Blacks look like beasts across the board. Where is the balance? There are plenty of smart, (brilliant) black American women who do not behave this way. Yet they choose to put a former adult entertainer (yes NeNe Leakes) in the spotlight. No uproar on the part of the masses of black women. In fact, we basically get the opposite. NeNe Leakes is being embraced by black women (at least by the establishment). She has been chosen as a featured speaker for Essence Magazine's annual festival. In so called “Black America” that is one step short of an NAACP image award. Dr. Boyce Watkins made some really great points in his commentary on this subject.

The other programs are just as troubling in their own way…although more subtle. The Basketball Wives appear to me to be escort service girls and gossip queens or a combination of both. Few real, genuine marriages exist in that world. They are essentially Gold Diggers who openly auction off what they have between their legs. Shallow, hollowed out trophy women (who aren’t even good at being that).
With The Real Housewives you basically get the same deal. The lives of all the main characters seem to revolve around money/financial status, and there's a constant competition to see which “diva” can outdo the other in the level of gluttony, stupidity, and arrogance they can display. The Braxton’s are only slightly more tolerable. Throughout the first season, we saw the example of the loud mouth, the annoying “diva”, and the gold digger. Once again, everything revolved around financial status. Toni Braxton herself, although the most tolerable, was not immune from spreading these negative images. I saw these women denigrate men who did blue collar work - labeling such men as losers who weren’t good enough. I saw these women denigrate a man who wanted to play an active role in raising his children. I saw a woman separate from her husband..a man who appeared to be an upstanding, decent guy who was guilty of falling on hard times. When he was employed and had a writing gig he was alright. But as soon as he fell on hard times…his wife leaves him. (not shocked… but unfortunate that this is becoming more of the norm…another incentive for me not to ever want to seek marriage… for what?). What a great lesson to teach to young women/girls - leave your husband when he loses a job, falls on hard times, becomes disabled and when he needs you most. I guess these kinds of women expect the “commitment” to marriage to flow one way (from the man) as opposed to both ways. It was no surprise that the most sane sister seems to have been the one from Maryland who doesn’t sing and is the most quiet of the bunch. If these are the Braxton “family values” then I am so glad I have a different set of values.

The moral of this, and probably the most tragic part is that young women/girls are watching these programs… getting their cues of how to behave from these programs… getting cues on how to be women and partners from these programs and from these characters. They emulate what they see on TV, and what they hear and read. They are influenced by hip hop culture more than their counterparts of other groups. This is why I say… Black culture (modern culture) is dead. It’s a rotten shell of what it once was. Yes, other women behave this way… true enough. Women in general are a little crazy (not all of you of course). But I see it in higher concentrations among blacks. It gas a bigger doubt about it. In the general culture… there are plenty of positive images to go along with the sludge. There is more of a balanced picture. This isn’t the case in so-called “Black America”.

And it’s not just the reality shows… you have Beyonce and Rihanna (considered Black royalty) who are like social wrecking balls to the psyche of black women/girls in this country. I am glad that I don’t identify with or recognize this culture. If I ever have a daughter… she will be in private or parochial school (or the best public school I could find) and sheltered from the madness of this planet as best as possible…and BET won’t be allowed in my home under any circumstances.

What can explain the silence of black women? Is this the image that they want to see? If you are a black woman… do you like what you see when viewing black women on TV? Is it the right reflection of you? Why are these negative characters embraced so strongly by so-called "black culture"?

This doesn’t really affect me directly… most readers probably know my dating preferences.. but it is still a troubling social problem that doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The First Lady Meets with Bishop Tutu...and onto Botswana

The First Lady met up with Archbishop Desmond Tutu....and then continued onto Botswana.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. Pictured from left are, niece Leslie Robinson, daughter Malia Obama, Archbishop Tutu, Mrs. Obama, daughter Sasha Obama and nephew Avery Robinson.
-----REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (in red) is followed by her daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson (top), after arriving at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone June 24, 2011.
-----REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (in red) and her famly are welcomed by traditional dancers in Gaborone June 24, 2011. With Michelle Obama are (L-R) U.S. Ambassador Michelle Gavin, Chief of Protocol Daphne Kadiwa, her mother Marian Robinson, Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning Gloria Somolekae, daughter Sasha Obama, nephew Avery Robinson, daughter Malia Obama and niece Leslie Robinson.
----REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool

Thursday, June 23, 2011

North Carolina hearing explores history of forced sterilization


North Carolina hearing explores history of forced sterilization
By the CNN Wire Staff
June 23, 2011 5:55 a.m. EDT

Deborah Chesson spoke through tears Wednesday as she addressed a North Carolina task force on behalf of her mother.

"I'm writing you with hopes that you will understand the pain, hurt and emptiness I still feel inside," she read.

"A social worker convinced my mom to sign for me to undergo an operation that would prevent me from getting pregnant, not knowing all the while that I was being set up to be sterilized like I was some kind of animal."

Dozens of North Carolina citizens spoke at the public hearing against the state's five-decade forced sterilization program. The listening session, held by the governor's task force, gave victims the opportunity to share their experiences with a state task force charged with recommending compensation for victims and their families.

Eugenics is the process of selectively breeding humans and animals to rid the population of "unfit" characteristics. In 1933, North Carolina passed a revised eugenics law. The law established the North Carolina Eugenics Board, which largely targeted low-income females for sterilization procedures.

Those speaking at the hearing said social workers pressured men and women to undergo sterilization and in some cases lied and said the procedures were reversible.

After World War II, most states abolished their eugenics programs when it became clear that Nazi's used similar practices to further their ideals of racial purity. But the number of sterilizations in North Carolina peaked between 1950-1960, according to state records. Though the eugenics board was abolished in 1977, the law remained a general statute until 2003.

Roughly 3,000 of the 7,600 citizens who were sterilized are still alive. Friends and family members of those sterilized addressed the task force on behalf of their loved ones who could not be present

The First Lady's Overseas Trip to South Africa: She finally makes it to Capetown

hat tip-The Obama Diary:

The First Lady continued her trip in South Africa. She visited the Vhuthilo Community Center in Soweto township, Johannesburg , and its community garden. Then, she made it to Capetown and the District Six museum, in Cape Town, South Africa.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama stands with her mother Marian Robinson, left, and daughters Sasha and Malia as they listen to former resident Noor Ebrahim as they visit the District Six museum, in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, June 23, 2011. Founded in 1867 as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, and immigrants, the apartheid government in 1965 declared it "white" and forcibly removed 60,000 residents and bulldozed their homes.
----AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool

Here is the First Lady's Speech from yesterday.

Michelle Obama Inspires Young Women In Soweto, South Africa

Updates on Voter Suppression 2012

Rachel Maddow has on Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss GOP Voter Suppression. Perry, as usual, is on point.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From USA Today:

Our view: Republican ID laws smack of vote suppression

To many Republicans, it is an article of faith that minimalist government works best.

Except, that is, when Republicans want to impose tighter rules for their political benefit. A case in point is the flurry of states —six so far this year— rushing to pass laws requiring voters to bring government-issued photo IDs to polling places. All have Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures.

Supporters say this is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But the operative question is: Why, at a time of economic distress and state budget shortfalls, is this such a priority? The answer has less to do with prevention than with suppression.

In theory, there isn't anything wrong with requiring photo IDs to vote, just as they are required to drive, board a plane or cash a check. The Constitution gives states broad latitude to run their elections. And a 2008 Supreme Court ruling upheld an ID law in Indiana, giving other states a green light for their own laws.

So states clearly can impose these requirements. The question is whether they should.

Scratch just gently beneath the surface, and these new measures appear unnecessary at best. Voter fraud is rare and consists largely of the types of actions that IDs would not correct, such as vote-buying and voter intimidation. Fraud is already kept in check by elections officials, poll watchers from both parties, and acceptance of alternatives to photo IDs, such as utility bills.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The First Lady and Her Continued Trip in South Africa

hat tip-The Obama Diary:

The First Lady continues her trip in South Africa. I can't express how I feel looking at the pictures coming back from this trip. This is a goosebumps moment that I didn't even know I wanted to have.

Children from a nearby creche hold placards as they wait for U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama before a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, June 22, 2011. Pietersen became a symbol of the apartheid struggle in South Africa when he was killed by police during the 1976 student uprising in Soweto .
---REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A choir sings before U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at Regina Mundi Church and addresses the Young African Women Leaders Forum in a Soweto township.
(doesn't matter the country, our elders singing in church, just give off the same vibe. the dress hats might look different, but you can feel it through the picture, their pride.)

Michelle Obama embraces Baleka Mbete, who has promoted equality and development in South Africa, with Graca Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (L) chats with Antoinette Sithole, sister of Hector Pietersen, before laying a wreath at the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, June 22, 2011. Hector Pietersen became a symbol of the apartheid struggle in South Africa when he was killed by police during the 1976 student uprising in Soweto .
-----REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (R) chats with Antoinette Sithole, sister of Hector Pietersen, before laying a wreath at the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, June 22, 2011. Hector Pietersen became a symbol of the apartheid struggle in South Africa when he was killed by police during the 1976 student uprising in Soweto .
-----REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (R) comforts Antoinette Sithole, sister of Hector Pietersen, after laying a wreath at the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, June 22, 2011. Hector Pietersen became a symbol of the apartheid struggle in South Africa when he was killed by police during the 1976 student uprising in Soweto .
----REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (R) lays a wreath with Antoinette Sithole, sister of Hector Pietersen, at the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, June 22, 2011. Hector Pietersen became a symbol of the apartheid struggle in South Africa when he was killed by police during the 1976 student uprising in Soweto .
----REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (R) comforts Antoinette Sithole, sister of Hector Pietersen, after laying a wreath at the Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto, June 22, 2011. Hector Pietersen became a symbol of the apartheid struggle in South Africa when he was killed by police during the 1976 student uprising in Soweto .
----REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The First Lady at a ‘breakout’ session at the Young African Youth Leaders Forum in Johannesburg

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Songs (and Poetry) in the Key of Life


Gil Scott-Heron - The Prisoner (From Pieces of a Man)

GSH Story - Gil Scott-Heron Saved My Life

Fast & Furiously Stupid: ATF Supplies Guns to Cartels

Federal government provides guns to some of the worst criminals on the planet.

Federal Agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico

From CBS News:

WASHINGTON - Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.

He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?

"Yes ma'am," Dodson told CBS News. "The agency was."

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson's job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.

Investigators call the tactic letting guns "walk." In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.

Dodson's bosses say that never happened. Now, he's risking his job to go public.

"I'm boots on the ground in Phoenix, telling you we've been doing it every day since I've been here," he said. "Here I am. Tell me I didn't do the things that I did. Tell me you didn't order me to do the things I did. Tell me it didn't happen. Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now, tell me it didn't happen."

Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico.

ATF named the case "Fast and Furious."

Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles.

So it turns out ATF not only allowed it - they videotaped it.
See full report w/ video

Amazing that ATF administrators couldn't figure out that this was not OK and probably wouldn't end well. Completely lacking good judgment. It annoys the Hell out of me that they have idiots like these running agencies/departments, yet I can't get a job. Unreal.

Republicans don't come away clean on this one either. They have blocked President Obama's nominees for ATF Chief for months, along with countless other leadership positions.

The First Lady and First Daughters Continue Their Visit to South Africa

hat tips-The Obama Diary,3CHICSPOLITICO:

The First Lady continues her trip in South Africa.

US First Lady meets Mandela

US First Lady Michelle Obama met South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela at his home Tuesday, in a rare visit with the ageing icon whose legacy frames much of her journey here.

The meeting with the 92-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was discreetly arranged after Obama and her daughters visited archives chronicling some of his 27 years as a political prisoner.

At the Mandela Foundation, his wife Graca Machel guided Obama, her mother, and her daughters Malia and Sasha through an exhibit of his personal photographs and journals, in which he meticulously drafted letters but also kept more mundane notes on his weight and daily routine.

“After leaving here, she proceeded to make a brief courtesy call on former president Mandela,” said Achmat Dangor, the head of the foundation, calling the first lady “a lovely woman without any airs”.

Their visit added to the symbolism surrounding Obama's journey, with America's first black family in the White House meeting South Africa's first black president.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In Today's Voter Suppression 2012 Chronicles, We Go To North Carolina

From Crooks and Liars:
June 08, 2011 04:00 PM
N. Carolina GOP Pushes Bill That Forbids Voting For Straight Party Lines
By Susie Madrak

See what happens when you turn your back on Republican state legislators? They wreak havoc all over the place.

In a strange way, this is good news. Because the Republicans are admitting that, without tricks, traps and lies, voters are much less likely to vote for Republicans!

But what delicious irony: They voted in a straight party-line vote to prevent voters from doing the same thing.

Yesterday in Raleigh, state Senate lawmakers advanced another bill aimed at making voting harder for North Carolinians who actually make it into the voting booth after clearing the other hurdles the GOP-led legislature has proposed. Reporter Laura Leslie put it succinctly [emphasis mine],

The state Senate voted on straight party lines tonight to forbid NC voters from doing the same thing.Senate Bill 411 would repeal the law that allows voters entering the ballot box to choose to vote for all the candidates in one party or the other. About 40% of voters in NC use this option.

Those mischievous scamps, what will they think of next? That’s SB411, also described as the “Elect Pat McCrory” bill.

Since taking over the North Carolina state legislature, the NCGOP has voted to…

Shorten the early voting period by a week [HB 658 -- passed the House]
Require registered voters to show a photo ID before voting [HB 351 -- passed out of committee in the House, on the House calendar for action today]
Eliminate a voter’s choice to vote a straight ticket [SB 411 -- passed the Senate]

There’s more besides, as lawmakers rush through bills ahead of a key procedural deadline. Passage of a bill through either house by Thursday means they can be considered again next year.

Do you see the consistency of this?

Of the limiting of voting rights?

The same tactics used over and over and over?

The point is obvious - VOTER SUPPRESSION FOR 2012.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is McKinsey and Co Hiding With Their ACA Study?

In an underreported story from last week, McKinsey & Co. published a study about the Affordable Care Act.

In an underreported story from last week, McKinsey & Co. published a study about the ACA. In this study, they claim that 30 percent of employers are planning to stop giving health insurance to their workers as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The study received a good deal of press coverage and was widely bandied about by conservative politicians and media outlets as proof that conservative warnings about the law are coming to pass.

Well, something's rotten in the state of McKinsey and Co. Their study contradicts studies by other independent groups that said just the opposite.

From BlueWave News:

This makes their extraordinary claims about the findings highly suspicious. For one thing, they starkly contradict every projection to date made by reputable nonpartisan organizations about the effect of the ACA upon employer-offered health insurance. In fact, on Wednesday Nancy-Ann DeParle on the White House blog characterized the McKinsey findings as "an outlier," citing studies from the nonpartisan Rand Corporation and the Urban Institute and the consulting firm Mercer (emphasis is mine):

The Rand Corporation: "The percentage of employees offered insurance will not change substantially, but a small number of employees in small firms (defined as those with under 100 employees in 2016) will obtain employer-sponsored insurance through the state insurance exchanges."

The Urban Institute: "Some have argued that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would erode employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) by providing incentives for employers to stop offering coverage. Others have claimed that most businesses would face increased costs as a result of reform. A new study finds that overall ESI coverage under the ACA would not differ significantly from what coverage would be without reform."

Mercer: "In a survey released today by consulting firm Mercer, employers were asked how likely they are to get out of the business of providing health care once state-run insurance exchanges become operational in 2014 and make it easier for individuals to buy coverage. For the great majority, the answer was 'not likely.'"

Now, the plot thickens.

From The Plum Line:
Posted at 04:35 PM ET, 06/10/2011
McKinsey refuses White House request for info on study faulting Affordable Care Act
By Greg Sargent

The other day, the consulting company McKinsey released a startling study claiming that 30 percent of employers are planning to stop giving health insurance to their workers as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The study received a good deal of press coverage and was widely bandied about by conservative politicians and media outlets as proof that conservative warnings about the law are coming to pass.

But as a number of critics were quick to point out, McKinsey’s finding is at odds with many other studies — and the company did not release key portions of the study’s methodology, making it impossible to evaluate the study’s validity.

There’s now been a new twist in this story.

I’m told that the White House, as well as top Democrats on key House and Senate committees, have privately contacted McKinsey to ask for details on the study’s methodology. According to an Obama administration official and a source on the House Ways and Means Committee, the company refused.

A spokesperson for McKinsey — which does proprietary research regularly — declined comment.

It's a straightforward question from the White House. Nothing complicated about it, so why the stonewall?

3 for 1: Intruders, Bob James & Jamie Lidell

Intruders - 'Save The Children' (Gil Scott-Heron 1949-2011)

Rachel Maddow Destroys Mitt Romney - The Jobs Candidate?

Love this piece by Maddow. Romney is attempting to brand himself as 'the jobs candidate'. Not only did Massachusetts have flat job growth during Romney's stint as Governor, but he killed jobs when he was an executive in the private sector.

The Art of Jazz

The Great George Benson, April 1967.

Chronic Unemployment Highest Since The Great Depression- No Jobs Strategy In Sight

I recall the President saying (when he was candidate Obama) something to the effect that when you get inside the bubble of Washington... you become one of them - meaning a politician out of touch with what is happening on the ground, especially in middle America. It is becoming more clear to me that Obama may be in the process of becoming 'one of them'.

CBS reported this week that chronic unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression... and even worse than the Depression era on a percentage basis.
About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months - a higher percentage than during the Great Depression.

The bigger the gap on someone's resume, the more questions employers have.

"(Employers) think: 'Oh, well, there must be something really wrong with them because they haven't gotten a job in 6 months, a year, 2 years.' But that's not necessarily the case," said Marjorie Gardner-Cruse with the Hollywood Worksource Center....

Here's another problem: more than 1 million of the long-term unemployed have run out of unemployment benefits, leaving them without the money to get new training, buy new clothes, or even get to job interviews.

In addition to the low job numbers, it was also reported this month that worker's share of national income has also dropped considerably over the last decade. All confirming what many working folks already know because we can feel it. When you are a millionaire and live in a cocoon in Washington, you can't feel it. You can see it, but it doesn't mean that you can feel it...and have real empathy for working people.

I can definitely feel it everyday. The company I work for lost its contract to provide services last month.... technically leaving me in limbo. Luckily, I was retained by the new service provider who saw my worth. But the work environment is worse now than ever.... so my job search has continued as if I were unemployed. I have been under-employed for several years now (a category that isn't included in national stats). Sometimes under-employment can be just as bad as having no work at all.

I know a major reason for my unsuccessful job search is because I am competing with a much larger number of job applicants than normal. There will always be someone with a flashier resume, someone who graduated from a school with a bigger 'brand', and someone with more extensive experience, even for the entry level jobs that I am seeking in public service. So even though I am not unemployed myself... I am still affected by the job market. As a result of my under-employment, my quality of life is just about zero. It is amazing that I have not gone completely nuts and killed myself at this point. A lot of people in my position either snap, kill themselves, or turn to alcohol...or worse.

Imagine working in the same miserable job that you hate getting up to go to for 17 years and only surviving (not living life). Being broke, especially as a man, robs you of quality of life. It means you can't date successfully, can't form the relationships you want...and of course that means you can't have a family of your own. This is why the condition of the economy is 'real' to me.

But despite the tough job market and high unemployment, we see the usual from Republicans. Working people and their labor rights are under attack everywhere from Wisconsin to Florida. Meanwhile corporate profits are as high as ever, with companies (seemingly on purpose) avoiding hiring to both increase profit margins to benefit those at the top, and to hurt the Presidents chances for re-election. CEO's and the Chamber of Commerce, would love to see a President Romney...or any nameless Republican, because it would mean less regulation, tax cuts, and more political support for the killing of labor rights... a dream scenario for corporations.

I am baffled by the response of the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress. What is their strategy? Do they even have one? According to recent reports from Washington insiders... the Obama Administration "doesn't have the stomach for a new jobs bill". They don't seem all that concerned with creating jobs. Much of their economic focus seems to be on the deficit. Unbelievable.
I personally don't believe they have a clue. I predicted a couple of years ago that this is where we would be right now. I hate to say I told you so.... but I told you so.
I also laid out a general outline of what a jobs plan could look like.

The approach by Democrats makes no sense politically or practically. This is why i'm so baffled. Yes, the Republicans control the House. But dammit, the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. It's as if they completely capitulated after the mid-terms. Progressive strategy is (and has been) non-existent. Even if they can't get a jobs bill passed.... making the effort would be smart politics for Democrats. President Obama should make a primetime address to the nation to spell out a jobs plan (worth anywhere from $50 to $150 billion - nothing compared with the nation building funds, the war money, and strategic bribe money that the U.S. has wasted over the past decade overseas). I'm referring to a more targeted jobs bill designed to spark the private sector, build the infrastructure of the future, and create sustainable employment in new industries.... a plan that could create millions of new jobs that will be around for a while. Democrats should put the plan on the table and force Republicans to vote against it (and they would). That is a winning strategy. That's a gift for Democrats...and it is a card that is available for them to use right now. Doing nothing... or taking cues from the Republicans about what the national debate should be (in this case... the debt/austerity), makes the Democrats look unbelievably weak and inept.

I know that a President has limited tools when it comes to dealing with the economy. However, a President can help to create more ideal conditions for economic growth. The real problem for the U.S. is 1). There are too many consumers and not enough producers; 2). There has been a fundamental shift in consumer behavior post 9/11 and again post 2008; and 3). The U.S. is being battered by globalization.... it is not adjusting well to it, largely because the Country failed to prepare for the changes in global labor and the shift in wealth. The U.S. is now paying dearly for not making the right kinds of adjustments to weather the impact of cheap labor, cheap goods, the rise of China (and the wider impact from Asia). The U.S. still isn't making the right adjustments, particularly in education. While students in other Countries receive a global education, American students still get outdated instruction from an insular perspective.

I don't see things getting much better anytime soon.

Great Commentary - "It's The Jobs, Stupid".

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday, Sasha Obama!!!

Today is Natasha "Sasha" Obama's 10th Birthday!!

May she have a happy one full of love, family and fun.

Sasha Obama dances as Willow Smith, daughter Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, performs during Easter Egg Roll festivities at the White House in Washington, Monday, April 25, 2011.
-----AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Rep. Broun Fine With 250,000 Public Employees Being Laid Off, Says They Should ‘Get A Real Job’

This is who they are. I don't know how many examples I'm supposed to provide for folks before they GET IT:

From ThinkProgress:

Rep. Broun Fine With 250,000 Public Employees Being Laid Off, Says They Should ‘Get A Real Job’
By Zaid Jilani on Jun 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Congressional and White House negotiators are currently trying to hash out a deal under which the United States will raise its debt ceiling, which is normally a non-controversial process that simply requires a vote on a clean bill to hike the limit.

Some obstinate conservatives have decried raising the debt ceiling, saying they will vote against any hike. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) is one of these conservatives. Appearing on conservative radio host Martha Zoller’s show today, Broun not only pledged to vote against raising the debt ceiling, but he also shrugged off the potential loss of a quarter million jobs as a result of doing so. Claiming that these employees would largely be public sector workers, he told Zoller that they should get a real job, anyway:

BROUN: We have created this huge debt. […] We’ve got to stop the outrageous spending that’s going on. We hear the CBO says well if we don’t raise the debt limit, it’s going to put so many people out of work, I don’t remember then number, I think it’s 250,000 or something, are gonna be put out of work. Well those are gonna be government employees that are put out of work. There are a lot of government employees that need to go find a real job!

Why doesn't his ass get off the Government Dole and go get a REAL JOB.

I get so tired of these mofos acting like Public Employees don't do REAL work that REAL PEOPLE NEED - every damn day in this country.

In 'They Are Who We Thought They Were' News- Americans For Prosperity Places Fake Eviction Notices On Detroit Homeowners’ Doors To Scare Up Support

Lowdown, no-good mofos.

Plain and Simple.

Americans For Prosperity Places Fake Eviction Notices On Detroit Homeowners’ Doors To Scare Up Support
By Zaid Jilani on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm

The Michigan chapter of the Koch-backed conservative activist group Americans For Prosperity (AFP) has been campaigning against a new bridge project called the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) that the state is considering. While there may be some merit to some of the arguments against the NITC project, the tactics AFP has just been found to be using in campaigning against it are revolting.

Yesterday, numerous residents in the Delray area of Detroit came back to their homes to find eviction notices. The problem was that these notices were not authorized by any sort of local government authorities. Rather, they were mocked up by AFP to look like actual eviction notices. The “notices” sensationally claimed to homeowners that their property may be seized if the NITC is constructed. Some residents, particularly elderly ones, were physically shaken by the tactic:

Residents and a state legislator lambasted the circulars, saying they were a scare tactic by opponents of the bridge. Dolores Toth, 81, who has heart problems, began to shake after reading the notice, said her son, Steve. “How low can you go?” Steve Toth said. “This isn’t something you do, I don’t care who you are.”

“It was meant to startle people,” said AFP Michigan director Scott Hagerstrom, defending the notices. “We really wanted people to take notice. This is the time that their opinions need to be heard. We wanted people to read it.” The Detroit Free Press put together a video report covering AFP’s scare tactics and the local area’s response. Watch it:

Do I really need to add anything to this?

What Weinergate is really about

I haven't given a rat's ass about this entire thing with Congressman Weiner.

As usual, the MSM is following the shiny object, while ignoring the REAL STORY BEHIND IT.

The Reid Report has done a fantastic job in explaining why this is going on.
What Weinergate interrupted: Clarence Thomas’ (ongoing) conflict of interest scandal (links archive)

Lost in the media frenzy over Rep. Anthony Weiner is the fact that at the same time he was Tweeting foolishness to random women, he was also the driving force behind a push to uncover potentially serious conflicts of interest on the nation’s highest court.

We’re probably doomed to at least another full day of media hyperventilation and Breitbart agitprop (this guy gets to be on the Today Show? Really??) over Anthony Weiner’s Twitterized member, plus the inevitable parade of random women who never actually met, but exchanged sexy pictures with the Congressmen doing endless, boring interviews and getting paid for it.” And the journalistic community appears fully prepared to welcome Breitbart into the club (which is disturbing in itself.) But the much more important scandal, which Weiner was trying to bring to light, involves Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and his ties to corporate and ideological interests with direct connections to cases that could come before the Court. And while his main concern right now is probably his marriage, and his constituents in New York, what Weiner may really have done is hand Thomas a giant, grey underwear-clad free pass.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Why everyone should think of always having a video camera on them

from The Reid Report:

NEW Video: witness to Miami Beach police shooting confronted by police
June 6, 2011 · Posted in Florida, News and Current Affairs, Scandals

This was just sent to me via Twitter. It was taken by someone nicknamed Collins335 on Youtube. It shows video from the point of view of a man who apparently witnessed the deadline “urban beach week” shooting of a man in South Beach by police. Watch as at the end of the video, police approach the spectator with guns drawn:

It’s not clear if this is the video referred to by the Miami Herald in a story this weekend. You can read that story here. You can hear audio of a woman on the video, who was in the car with the witness.

Meanwhile, the Herald reports that the man who held a Miami Beach rally calling for an end to urban beach week says he has lost his job as a result of his creation of an “End Urban Beach Week” Facebook page. The shooting has also begun to impact the Miami Beach mayor’s race.

Wisconsin Update - Another GOPer caught on tape trying to subvert little ' d' democracy.

I've said for awhile that the GOP has absolutely no interest in little ' d' democracy. It's not who they are. They are about VOTER SUPPRESSION.

So, here's the latest from Wisconsin.

Top Republican justifies running fake Democrats in recall races
By Daniel Bice of the Journal Sentinel

The head of the state Republican Party today acknowledged that it is encouraging fake Democrats to run in recall elections this summer.

Stephan Thompson, executive director of the state party, issued a statement justifying the practice because Republican senators have been too busy in Madison to prepare for the recall elections.

"The Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved," Thompson said in his statement.

The Journal Sentinel disclosed that the party is hoping to run "protest candidates" as Democrats in the recall elections for Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon. Hopper has said he had no knowledge of the matter.

If a primary is held for either party, that would push back the general election by a month, thereby giving the incumbent lawmakers more time to campaign.

UPDATE: Interestingly, it wasn't so long ago when top Republicans were offended by this tactic.

Last year, Thompson's predecessor, Mark Jefferson, complained that Democrats and the unions ran a fake Republican in the re-election contest for state Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer, an Independent from Manitowoc. Jefferson called it a "nasty, cynical ploy."

But in his lengthy statement, Thompson defends and justifies running spoiler candidates:

"The upcoming recall elections are unprecedented not only in Wisconsin, but in our nation's history. Unlike the Democratic Senators who deserted their constituents for a trip to Illinois, six Republican state Senators face recall not for misconduct, but for doing the job they were elected to do: taking a stance on a tough issue that came before the legislature.

"Now, these Republican senators are again busy doing their jobs crafting a fiscally responsible state budget that promotes economic growth, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage with many of their challengers who have had sufficient time to campaign. Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved.

"The public deserves time to learn about the differences between the candidates and about the Republican plan to control government spending and boost economic growth vs. the Democrat alternative of job-killing tax hikes."

So, why are the Republicans panicking about the recalls?

From The Plum Line

Posted at 03:24 PM ET, 05/31/2011
Wisconsin Dems 6. Wisconsin Republicans 0.
By Greg Sargent

Conservatives and some political observers are making a big deal out of the fact that the Dem candidate in the closely watched state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin finally conceded defeat today, as had long been expected.

But surely it’s also a big deal that we now know for certain that six Wisconsin Republican state senators will officially face recall elections, while a grand total of zero Democrats may face the same?

Today the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced that they have now approved the signatures required for recall elections against the following six GOP senators: Rob Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, and Luther Olsen. That means these six elections are definitely moving forward.

Meanwhile, the board has also announced that they are not prepared to approve the signatures gathered by Republicans for the recall of their three Democratic targets. Dems have alleged that the signature gathering by Republicans is fraudulent, and now the board has explicitly claimed that their reason for not approving the recall elections against Dems is that the signatures “have raised numerous factual and legal issues which need to be investigated and analyzed.”

Translation: The fraud allegations just may have something to them.

What this means: While Dems only need to net three recall elections to take back the state senate, it is now within the realm of possibility that even as twice that number of Republicans face recall elections, no Dems will. That’s a pretty sizable advantage for Dems.

Rachel Maddow does a piece on the happenings in Wisconsin:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The GOP is NOT interested in DEMOCRACY. They are interested it -AT ALL. They are about VOTER MANIPULATION AND VOTER SUPPRESSION. It's all they know what to do. LYING AND CHEATING is the name of the game for them.

Go Debbie Wasserman-Schultz!! Tell it!!

from The

DNC chairwoman: Republicans 'literally' want to revive Jim Crow laws
By Michael O'Brien - 06/06/11 12:24 PM ET

Republicans would "literally drag [the U.S.] all the way back to Jim Crow laws," the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) charged over the weekend.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) accused Republicans of trying to resurrect Jim Crow laws in the form of stricter laws at the state level that could limit access to ballots by some voters.

"Now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally — and very transparently — block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates," she told host Roland Martin on "Washington Watch" this weekend [emphasis hers]. "And it’s nothing short of that blatant."

A series of state legislatures, now under the control of Republicans after the wave election in 2010, have enacted reforms to ballot access laws, which could shape the 2012 vote at the margins. The laws are ostensibly nonpartisan, but Democrats and watchdog groups have warned that they would have the impact of depressing turnout for constituencies typically loyal to Democrats.

She backed off her use of the language in a statement on Monday afternoon.

"Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use," she said. "But I don't regret calling attention to the efforts in a number of states with Republican dominated legislatures, including Florida, to restrict access to the ballot box for all kinds of voters, but particularly young voters, African Americans and Hispanic Americans."

Wasserman Schultz was speaking specifically about one example: a law sought by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) requiring voters to produce a valid ID.

The DNC chairman likened a similar law in Georgia to a "poll tax," one of the laws used by states with Jim Crow laws to deny blacks the right to vote in the century since the Civil War. The Supreme Court has struck down many of those laws as unconstitutional because of their disparate impact, and the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s sought to end Jim Crow in practice.

"So, you’re literally just throwing a barrier in the way of someone who’s trying to exercise their right to vote," Wasserman Schultz said of the modern-day laws. "And the reason that it’s not necessary is because we already have very legitimate voter verification processes, signature checks that are already in place; and there is so little voter fraud, which is the professed reason the Republicans are advancing these laws. There’s so little voter fraud, and I mean you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than you are to see an instance of voter fraud in this country, but Republicans are imposing laws all over the country, acting like it’s not — voter fraud is rampant, and it’s ridiculous."

I've been saying for forever and a day that Literacy Test, Poll Tax, Voter ID - it's all the same. Different name, same purpose....


And, the 'excuse' they use is Voter Fraud, which, is in fact, a FRAUD ----it DOES NOT EXIST ON ANY SERIOUS LEVEL.

Just to hear someone actually say it.....yes yes yes yes.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Boehner Spokesman: Auto Industry Revival Is ‘Nothing To Celebrate’


Boehner Spokesman: Auto Industry Revival Is ‘Nothing To Celebrate
By Pat Garofalo on Jun 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Last week, the Obama administration announced that Fiat has agreed to buy the final government share in Chrysler, officially completing that company’s trip through federally managed bankruptcy. The U.S. losses from the auto industry rescue, according to the latest projections, will be much lower than estimates showed over the last few years.

In the first quarter of this year, all three of the Big Three auto companies were profitable. As President Obama said, were it not for the government rescue, “by the time the dominos stopped falling, more than a million jobs, in countless communities, in a proud industry that helped build America’s middle class for generations, wouldn’t have been around any more.”

But Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) would rather have seen those jobs disappear, as his spokesman said yesterday that the auto industry’s revival is “nothing to celebrate”:

“The administration’s auto bailout is nothing to celebrate,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican. “The model the White House should be touting is Ford, which, instead of relying on a taxpayer-funded bailout, saw trouble coming and made the tough decisions necessary to preserve jobs and weather the storm.”

This is hardly the first time that Boehner has been utterly unsympathetic to the prospect of widespread job losses. Back in February, for instance, Boehner said “so be it” when asked about the loss of federal jobs that would occur if the House Republicans’ desired spending cuts were implemented.

Boehner is also highlighting Ford’s refusal of money as if Ford did not benefit from the auto rescue. But as the Wall Street Journal noted, Ford will “benefit from many of the concessions that General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC exact from the suppliers, unions, dealers and debt holders shared by all three companies.”

Since the President has already made it clear that he's running on the success of the Auto Industry Bailout, which EVERY REPUBLICAN is on record for being AGAINST...suddenly, it's 'nothing to celebrate'.

The continued success of the American Auto Industry, as well as all the ancillary jobs that were saved when it was bailed out by the Government - get that.... it's 'NOTHING TO CELEBRATE'.

I swear, if the DNC doesn't run an ad in EVERY AREA where there's a new plant going up, and where those are STILL operating, with quotes from Orange Julius and Flipping Mitt's ' Op-Ed' about letting Detroit die, then they are idiots. These ads, in additional to the ones employing folks in the high-speed rail projects, need to play in a continual loop in districts all around the country.

Democrats Break Down Impact Of GOP Medicare Plan District By District


Democrats Break Down Impact Of GOP Medicare Plan District By District

House Democrats have broken down the massive changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by the House GOP into a convenient take home size.

Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (CA) and Frank Pallone (NJ), voters can now see what Democrats say is the direct impact of the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system on every congressional district in the country.

Waxman and Pallone have set up an interactive map that allows viewers to pop open a report on the impact of the Medicare change on the population in their community.


Ok, this is a START.

The Democrats need to make sure that this is in bold linkage on every Congressional and Senatorial Website, as well as the DNC.

They need to get this into the hands of as many folks as possible. I hope you will spread the word about the site, because it has not only Medicare impact, but Medicaid impact.

I'll say it again...the Democrats need to stop running away from defending MEDICAID. They need to stand up, and put out the REAL FACE of Medicaid dollars: a White Grandma or Grandpa in a Nursing Home.

Why Grandma Will Be At The Door, Suitcase In Hand

from DailyKos:

Why Grandma Will Be At The Door, Suitcase In Hand
by Julie Gulden .

Republicans are taking it on the chin for trying to dismantle Medicare. Wait til the public realizes that Medicaid, which they are also trying to tear apart, is what makes it possible for Grandma to stay in a nursing home. Roughly 70% of nursing home residents are on Medicaid. I'm betting that many of you have a parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt who is in a nursing home and the cost is being paid by Medicaid.

Medicaid serves low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, blind and disabled—an enormous but politically disenfranchised segment of the population. Currently, some 60 million Americans receive health care through the program, including one in three children, four in ten pregnant women, and 70 percent of nursing home residents.

Average Cost of a Nursing Home Room Tops $83,000 a Year

Nursing home and assisted living rates rose significantly from 2009 to 2010, according to the 2010 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs. Private room nursing home rates rose 4.6 percent to $83,585 a year or $229 a day, while assisted living facility costs climbed 5.2 percent on average to $39,516 a year or $3,293 a month.

$148,579 is what the AVERAGE 65 year old (and older) 401K account is...but some very high earners tilt that number to the high side. The median is more accurate in that 50% have more and 50% have less. The median number is $60,800. This is the point at which you gasp and start caculating Grandma's assets. Does she own a home? Hope so! Because she can't last even a full year in a nursing home on that $60,800. Typically, Grandma could move in to the nursing home, spend down her savings, and when most of it was used up, in comes Medicaid to save the day.

What have I been saying over and over since it was revealed that the Ryan plan contained the end of both MEDICARE AND MEDICAID?

That folks need to just start talking to people wherever they are. Ask them if they know someone who is in a nursing home. Hell, stand outside of nursing homes on the weekend, and ask those going inside to visit:


If the answer is no, then tell them they have no business voting Republican.

The Democrats needs to stop being afraid of Medicaid. Their stupid asses let the GOP demagogue MEDICAID to where the ' face' of Medicaid is someone poor and their children, when, in fact, the FACE of Medicaid, in terms of dollars, should be that WHITE SENIOR CITIZEN, who more than likely has sheltered their assets so that their kids can put them in the nursing home using MEDICAID DOLLARS.

And, THAT, is who needs to become the posterchild for MEDICAID.

Friday, June 03, 2011

You Really Can't Invent Villians Like This -Gov. Christie Thinks A Family Making $6,000 A Year Is Too Rich To Qualify For Medicaid

Yes, you read right.

Governor Krispy Kreme believes that a family making SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS is too rich to qualify for Medicaid.

From ThinkProgress:

Gov. Christie Thinks A Family Making $6,000 A Year Is Too Rich To Qualify For Medicaid
By Marie Diamond on Jun 2, 2011 at 10:00 am

Despite recent polls that show Americans are just as protective of Medicaid as they are of Medicare, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is trying to gut the popular program in his state and prevent 23,000 people from receiving benefits. Christie has proposed cutting Medicaid eligibility to absurdly low levels: from the current maximum income of $24,645 to $5,317 a year for a family of three. Apparently, the governor believes a family of three making $6,000 a year is simply too rich to receive Medicaid.

The New Jersey press has reported that the main effect of his proposal would be to slash help for the working poor, tearing a huge hole in the state’s social safety net:

Adults in a family of three that makes as little as $103 a week would earn too much to qualify for health care provided by Medicaid under a sharply curtailed program Gov. Chris Christie wants the federal government to approve this year, according to state officials and advocates briefed on the proposal.[...]

The Christie administration is expected to propose cutting the maximum income level of Medicaid from $24,645 to $5,317 a year for a family of three [...]

“That is about a third of the poverty level,” Castro said. “That means that an uninsured parent working full time at a minimum-wage job wouldn’t be eligible. … A parent who works half-time for minimum wage wouldn’t even qualify.

“Unfortunately, the only way these parents can become eligible for health coverage in the future is if the parent applies for and is eligible for welfare,” Castro added. “That sends the wrong message.”

More Florida News...More Hideousness from the Governor

from The American Independent:

Fla. Gov. Scott cuts vaccinations for postpartum women on Medicaid
By Ashley Lopez | 06.01.11 | 12:47 pm

Add another cut to the already long list of health care services that Gov. Rick Scott vetoed last week: $1.8 million dollars in vaccinations for postpartum women on Medicaid.

According to the recently released Florida “End of Session Report,” a provision in the Agency for Health Care Administration budget would have provided funding for Tdap vaccinations for women who just gave birth and are enrolled in Medicaid. However, this line of the budget was vetoed, along with other health services for mostly low-income women and children.

In a 2008 press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency recommended the use of this vaccination for the “prevention of Pertussis, Tetanus, and Diphtheria among pregnant and postpartum and women and their infants.”

Scott’s cut is just another in a growing list of health services for women that were eliminated from the already-slim state budget. Among more than $2 million in services that were cut was also a pilot program that would provide specialized care to at-risk first-time mothers.

Scott has called programs he cut “special interest waste” and “short-sighted, frivolous spending programs.”

Poor children getting vaccinations is 'special interest waste'.

For the children who will become ill as a result of these cuts...

may he burn in hell.

Karma---still undefeated. Wisconsin State Senator up for Recall - it sucks to be you


Wis. GOPer: ‘Tons’ Of Govt. Workers In My District — And I Hope They’re Asleep On Recall Day

Wisconsin state Sen. Dan Kapanke, a Republican facing a recall election in the battle over Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation, might come to regret some of the language he used to fire up local Republicans in his western Wisconsin district.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, a secret audio recording of a talk that Kapanke gave on May 25 reveals Kapanke bemoaning the presence of a large number of public employees in his district -- and his tongue-in-cheek hopes that they'll be asleep on election day:

"So, we're going with our campaign, we're doing whatever we can. But we've got tons of government workers in my district -- tons, from La Crosse to Prairie du Chien and to Viroqua and to Ontario and to Hillsboro, you can go on and on and on. We have to overcome that. We gotta hope that they, kind of, are sleeping on July 12th, or whenever the date is."

Sometimes, things just write themselves, don't they?


GOP won’t let democracy get out of hand

Just wanted to bring you the latest from Florida and their attempts for VOTER SUPPRESSION just in time for the 2012 Election.

Unlike most times, when it's the ' fringes' talking about VOTER SUPPRESSION, I am heartened that more and more folks seem to see the OBVIOUS as to what's going on.

From the Miami Herald:

GOP won’t let democracy get out of hand

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters, Rick Scott is now one of the country’s most unpopular governors, a dubious feat after only four months in office.

It’s bad news for Republican Party bosses, but all is not lost. Scott recently signed a new election bill that is callously designed to suppress voter turnout, making it harder for many disgruntled Floridians to cast a valid ballot in 2012.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state, so GOP leaders are desperate to find ways to keep certain people away from the polls. One of the Legislature’s top priorities was to change the voting rules to avoid a repeat of 2008, when Barack Obama won the state’s 27 electoral votes on his way to the presidency.

Obama benefited from early-voting days, which proved popular among minorities, college students and retirees. Republican officials became incensed during the election when then-Gov. Charlie Crist — one of their own — decided to extend polling hours to accommodate the long lines.

The nerve of that guy, making it easier for common citizens to vote!

Determined not to let this whole democracy thing get out of hand, the GOP-held Legislature crafted a bill that reduces the number of early voting days from 15 to eight, and requires some voters who have moved to cast provisional ballots, a deliberate inconvenience aimed at students.

Historically, provisional ballots are counted at a much lower rate than regular ones, meaning many young voters won’t get heard — exactly what Scott and the Republican leadership want.

The new bill also throws out a rule that had been in effect for 40 years allowing Floridians to update their legal addresses when they arrive to vote. Now you can only do that if you moved within the same county.

To hinder community groups that register first-time voters, the law requires volunteers for organizations such as the League of Women Voters to register with the state as if they were sex offenders.

But....I thought these were PUBLIC Schools...

hat tip-Washington Monthly:

from the Wall Street Journal:

Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills
MEDINA, Ohio—Karen Dombi was thrilled when her three oldest children were picked for student government this year—not because she envisioned careers in politics, but because it was one of the few programs at their public high school that didn't charge kids to participate.

Budget shortfalls have prompted Medina Senior High to impose fees on students who enroll in many academic classes and extracurricular activities. The Dombis had to pay to register their children for basic courses such as Spanish I and Earth Sciences, to get them into graded electives such as band, and to allow them to run cross-country and track.

The family's total tab for a year of public education: $4,446.50.

"I'm wondering, am I going to be paying for my parking spot at the school? Because you're making me pay for just about everything else," says Ms. Dombi, a parent in this middle-class community in northern Ohio.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron Passes On

                                    Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron  

Gil Scott-Heron was one of the voices of my Progressive conscience. Although he was far more to the left than most. I have moderated and become more Conservative as I have gotten older. I didn’t agree with all of his positions of course, but he was so big that it didn’t matter.

I first discovered Gil Scott-Heron in the late 1980’s during the brief resurgence of the Black consciousness movement, of which I was in tune with at the time. Carlton Ridenhour was probably responsible for that introduction…. I can’t recall exactly. But it was definitely during that period. But I didn’t really dive into his music until later, in the 1990’s, when I began to really study the history of music. He only grew on me from there. I wasn’t impressed with the “Godfather of Rap” nonsense…. Which is a title that he actually didn’t want. In fact, he is quoted in the New York Times giving a rather humorous response to that suggestion. Yet the media (including print media) keeps repeating this misinformation. I didn't like him for his connection to Rap, but in spite of it. It has been highly annoying to hear him being branded with that label repeatedly. Message to reporters who have no idea about music and musicians from the Black American experience - ask an enthusiast, amateur musicologist, or academic familiar with the artist before writing anything.

I also didn’t care for the militant label. What I liked most about Gil Scott Heron was his vision, musicianship, songwriting, and the fact that he felt free and told it like he saw it. I also was impressed by the fact that he never sold out…. Meaning he never put the pursuit of commercial success over his craft and the need to be a voice for the voiceless and the invisible. There are not too many of these kinds of artists around anymore…. And there have not been many throughout modern history, excluding the great bluesmen. At least there have not been many like this who had a national stage. Dylan comes to mind… Joan Baez, Marvin Gaye as well (just so happened the “What’s Going On” album went big…and that was partly because Marvin Gaye had already been established as a world phenomenon by the early 70’s when the album was completed. But the point is… Marvin Gaye had to fight with Motown to do a socially conscious album). Others include Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone, Odetta, and a few others. With the exception of Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, the vast majority of artists in this vein don’t become huge commercially. They sacrifice (some more than others) the trappings of fame and fortune in order to respond to another calling. That is what was most impressive to me about Gil Scott-Heron. Here was a man, an immensely talented artist and songwriter, who could have had more commercial success had he chose that route. Just on his writing ability alone he could have gotten a nice Sr. writing gig at Motown or Philadelphia International. He could have taken the road paved with gold, but instead chose to take the narrower route, barely paved at all. You would be hard pressed to find artists like this today who have another calling. Unfortunately, the era of the Nina Simone’s and the Gil Scott-Heron’s is passing, as consciousness in music is fading.

Gil Scott-Heron (at his height) represented a time in Black culture when there was a Black culture worthy of our attention and examination. He represented a time when it was not only OK to embrace being Black, but it felt good. It was a time when you could be proud to be Black.... not embarrassed. You didn't have to hate it. It was a period, post-MLK and post civil rights act, when Blacks were just starting to make real strides in terms of improving their socio-economic, political, and educational positions. There were reasons to be proud and hopeful. I can't say that the pride is there for me today in nearly the same way. The image of Blacks has taken a beating... much of the work that the civil rights pioneers did to restore and boost the Black American image has been squandered. We have the likes of BET, Beyonce, Rihanna (and others... pick just about any female Rap/R&B act) to thank for that, along with the Rap culture. I think most regular readers should know how I feel about rappers.... so I won't rehash. But with only a few exceptions, I put them somewhere in between child molesters on the low end & con artists on the high end.

His vision was prophetic. The 'Winter in America' that he wrote about…. We are in it right now. In it, he lays out the consequences of a nation with misguided priorities….one that invests in war, but won’t invest nearly as much in its people, that spends more for killing than for educating its children, one that facilitates greed in the private sector (ie Wall Street) but fails when it comes to facilitating justice and fair play for working people. It is definitely Winter. In fact, we are still in the blizzard that hit us back in September, 2008. ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’? That’s a song about nuclear energy. (Let’s not forget Chernobyl and the world is still dealing with Fukushima). In ‘We Beg Your Pardon’ he was talking about the crooks who escaped from Watergate with a slap on the wrist, but he could have just as easily been referring to the political bullies in the Bush Administration who misused their positions or to the Wall Street crooks who left the scene of their crimes unscathed, while the rest of the Country has been forced to deal with the consequences. He was ahead of his time. Yet as he served as a messenger he also served as an example of the frailties & vulnerabilities of man. He had his own demons and addictions that dogged him. Most of the really great artists had something that dogged them…. Drugs, mental illness…. alcoholism…insecurities…family problems… something. Gil Scott was no exception. These things serve to make these great artists even more authentic. It shows that they are down in the muck of life right along with the rest of us…and Gil Scott-Heron never put himself above those who were listening to his music. When I hear about the jackasses in entertainment today…with their entourages, tour trailers, demands for accommodations, I am both amused and dismayed. They have no sense of a higher purpose or higher calling at all. Money is the God or higher calling that they serve…. Material things. That’s basically it for the vast majority of today’s entertainers. In a nutshell, they f______ make me sick. This is the main reason I don’t watch much empty-v. Although some of their social programming has gotten better. All in all, it still represents a dying culture.

My favorite Gil Scott-Heron album would have to be ‘Pieces of a Man’. This is a masterpiece. One of the best albums I have ever heard. I would put it on par with Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On‘, Marley’s ‘Exodus’ or ‘Catch A Fire’, or Stevie Wonder’s ‘Innervisions’. The only real difference between ‘Pieces of a Man’ and these other masterworks is that the others are much more well known, and had more reach. Here is a partial discography with his most important albums. If I had to pick 12 favorites, they would be:

1. Winter In America

2. We Almost Lost Detroit

3. Pieces of a Man

4. Home is Where the Hatred Is

5. I Think I’ll Call It Morning

6. The Bottle

7. It’s Your World

8. Save The Children

9. Back Home

10. B Movie

11. Get Out of The Ghetto Blues

12. Prayer for Everybody

Remembrance from NPR

BBC Report

Another blog remembrance

Vocals by Victor Brown of Scott-Heron's and Brian Jackson's Midnight Band