Monthly Archives: July 2013

Krugman on the Ugly Truth

Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.

So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.

To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.”

It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.

http://seniorsforademocraticsociety.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/krugman-on-the-ugly-truth/

Seniors for a Democratic Society

Hunger Games, U.S.A.

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.

The occasion for these observations is, as you may have guessed, the monstrous farm bill the House passed last week.

For decades, farm bills have had two major pieces. One piece offers subsidies to farmers; the other offers nutritional aid to Americans in distress, mainly in the form of food stamps (these days officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP).

Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became…

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Immigration Reform

Republican House will never get on board and the people will vote them OUT in 2014. And, that’s a good thing.

Rcooley123's Blog

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

                                — From the sonnet “New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, currently located at the Statue of Liberty museum.

On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed S, 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, on a 68-34 vote. The provisions contained in it are a far cry from the sentiments expressed in the quote above, but do represent a compromise between them and the stricter demands for conditions to be met by the Republicans in order to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. A potential pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants is included.

The key amendment making the passage of the bill possible on a somewhat bipartisan basis involves appropriating more than…

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Dialogue, Common Ground, and Blue v. Orange

Protests carry many names like “Rally” or “March” and here are some very good pointers here on how to conduct yourself. Excerpt: “Our legislative goals are the primary focus, but behind them is something even more important.

People. People whose rights and access to safe healthcare, safe abortion, are in extreme jeopardy. My rights, your rights, our rights.”

Voting laws that deliberately disenfranchise people are cynical and wrong. They undermine our Democracy! Voter Suppression is equally important as Gun Violence and the War On Women. The Do-Nothing Congress has done nothing long enough and now we must force them into ACTION! To deny one issue is the same as denying all of the issues.

nonsequiteuse

Nobody drives halfway across Texas—or halfway across the country—because they are unsure about what they believe.

Nobody takes time off work to sit in a capitol extension overflow room for 9 hours hoping a really smart stranger will completely change his or her worldview.

Nobody shows up at a rally, ready to chant, carry signs, and find someone with a totally different belief system and have a deep, personal, life-changing conversation.

Nobody.

Trust me on this. 

It can be powerful to engage in dialogue with someone who doesn’t understand why you advocate for abortion rights, to share stories, to probe the uncomfortable space where your values and experience do or do not line up and discover common ground, but that’s a conversation that requires time, trust, and an assumption of good intentions.

Those are three things in very short supply when you are on the front lines of direct action.

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Alison Lundergan Grimes: The anti-Ashley Judd?

GOP is viewed as “scary,” “narrow-minded” and the party of “stuffy old men.” Alison Lundergan Grimes should have an easy win in KY. The Republicans have caused irreparable damage to the American people and lack the ability to govern.

The End of the GOP

Since 2010 state legislatures with Republican majorities have introduced and passed restrictive laws with the potential — and many argue the intent — of forcing widespread voter suppression, and to disenfranchise women, people of color, students, the elderly, and low-income communities.
The overall strategy has included efforts to:
• Pass laws that require voters to produce proof of citizenship;
• Make the voter registration process more difficult by eliminating Election Day registration and creating new restrictions on voter registration drives;
• Cut early and absentee voting periods;
• Make the restoration of voting rights more difficult;

Require eligible voters to possess current and valid state issued photo ID

90 Degrees to the Left

gop-casketThe current GOP is literally a dinosaur on its way to extinction, unless by a miracle it manages to change course, but I don’t believe in ‘miracles.’ They yearn for the “good ole days” so much that they are attempting, and unfortunately succeeding on red states where they control the government, to take the country back to another era, stubbornly refusing to advance forward and embrace the 21st Century. Instead they are stampeding back in time.

Their open dislike of today’s women is obvious. They despise modern women that have proved to be qualified to hold any position previously held only by men and in many instances performing better than men. The GOP is not happy to see that women, in the majority, are capable to juggle work, fun, home and family and that men usually drown in despair when placed in the same scenario as a single-mother. Women…

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 “This current administration has done everything in its power to sabotage immigration law,” _ Just another Republican LIE!

Quite honestly, this is a game of reverse psychology.  Republicans say the President hasn’t done enough to justify spending more.  Here are 6 things your should know about border enforcement.  Unbelievable story – well worth the read.  

 
1. Deportations Are At Historic Highs- The Obama administration has deported a record number of undocumented immigrants, which has angered immigrants rights’ activists who argue that the rise in deportations has impacted families of those deported.

2. Apprehensions Are At An All-Time Low- At its peak, U.S. Border Patrol data show that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants nationwide and along the Southwest border routinely topped 1 million.  In FY 2012, the Border Patrol apprehended 364,768 individuals nationwide.

3. There Are Record Numbers of U.S. Border Patrol Agents- Since FY 2001, the U.S. Border Patrol has steadily increased its number of agents from 9,821 agents nationwide — the bulk of whom (93 percent) were stationed on the Southwestern border — to more than double today at 21,395 agents.

4. There Are Record Numbers of ICE Agents- According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data provided to the Immigration Policy Center*, there is a record number of ICE agents in the field tasked with enforcement and removal operations.  As of FY 2012, there are about 6,338 agents in the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division, which is double the number the program had in 2003 at 2,710.

5. Spending On Border Enforcement Has Doubled- The total budgets for CBP and ICE have doubled in the decade since the inception of the Homeland Security Department in 2002, with CBP’s budget totaling about $11.7 million in FY 2012.  The budgets for CBP and ICE have increased to such a degree that they now comprise 31 percent of DHS’ total spending in FY 2013.

6. Fence On U.S.-Mexico Border Stretches 650 Miles- The U.S. border with Mexico stretches 1,954 miles from California to Texas.  The “length of the land border is 675 miles, while the length of the border along the Colorado River and Rio Grande is 1,279 miles.  The bulk of the fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border is situated on land, with California, Arizona, and New Mexico almost completely fenced off.
 Senate Immigration Reform Bill Militarizes Border In Afghanistan-Style Surge- Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) — on CNN on June 25,  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said the bill would turn the Southwestern border into the “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall”.  In addition to fortifying the border in each sector between ports of entry, the amendment provides for the following:
1)      Adds Another 17,000 Border Patrol Agents
2)     Calls For No Less Than 700 Miles Of Fencing
3)     Fortifies Border Surveillance
 

  “This current administration has done everything in its

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10 Reasons Why “Moral Mondays” Activist Demonstrate

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“Moral Mondays” – is a series of weekly demonstrations.  Protesters descend on the state legislature to show their displeasure and, often, be arrested.  Activist like these will increase voter enthusiasm and that’s a good thing.   

Nowhere is the battle between liberal and conservative visions of government fiercer than North Carolina. From the environment to guns, abortion to campaign finance, religion to taxes.

 

Unlike the Madison contretemps, which centered around one major issue — Gov. Scott Walker’s drive to strip public employees of collective-bargaining rights, and protesters push to stop him — the battle in North Carolina is more of a multiform war featuring a large number of skirmishes. Here’s a quick primer on what they’re fighting over:

 

1. UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Starting today, 70,000 North Carolinians will lose long-term unemployment benefits from the federal government, even though the state has the nation’s fifth-worst jobless rate; that comes on top of the state slashing its own benefits. It’s the only state in the nation to end federal benefits. How did it happen? Well, the state is more than $2 billion in debt to Washington, so it decided to redirect money it had been using for state unemployment benefits for repaying what it owes. But in the process, it violated the minimum it must provide to qualify for federal benefits. The maximum weekly benefit will decrease from $535 to $350, and the longest anyone can stay on the dole will drop from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks. There are an estimated 700,000 North Carolinians who are out of benefits but don’t have a job. The move is estimated to cut some $475 million from the state economy.

 

2. TAX OVERHAUL: Unsurprisingly, changing the state’s taxation system has been a key priority, and a key reason for liberal fury. Also unsurprisingly, it’s been a difficult, contentious process. In this case, protestors’ best hope isn’t their actions — it’s their opponents. Both the House and Senate are Republican-controlled, but they’ve been unable to reach a consensus, and last week had to agree to short-term continuing resolution to fund the state. And they’re quarreling with the governor. The basic outline is clear: Changes would reduce both personal and corporate taxes and reduce state revenue, though McCrory wants more revenue than either chamber. Any plan is likely to result in lower income taxes for almost all residents, but also a much flatter tax code, with wealthier residents bearing a smaller percentage of the tax burden.

 

3. FRACKING: You may have heard about, and laughed at, the case of the Democratic legislator who accidentally cast the deciding vote on a bill to end a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing last year — she mistakenly pressed the wrong button, giving an override of then-Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto a crucial 60 percent margin. Now the legislature is moving forward with the next step in opening the state up to exploration, with a bill to start issuing permits. A Senate version of the bill would also drillers to keep the contents of their fracking fluid secret.

 

4. RACIAL JUSTICE ACT REPEAL: Like many southern states, North Carolina has a troubled history with race — and Jesse Helms’ against Harvey Gantt was just 23 years ago. As the News and Observer, “a study found murder defendants were 2 1/2 times more likely to be sentenced to death if at least one of the victims was white, and raised questions about how frequently blacks are excluded from serving on juries,” leading the legislature to pass a law in 2009 that allowed for appeals to commute death sentences to life sentences on the basis of statistical evidence of racial bias. The law was hailed as a landmark, but almost immediately became a target. In 2011, legislators it, only to have Perdue veto the repeal. This term, they tried again, and McCrory signed the repeal on June 19. A secondary effect of the repeal is that a de facto moratorium on executions, in place since 2006, is likely to end.

 

5. MEDICAID EXPANSION: North Carolina is one of 13 states that have announced they will reject an expansion of Medicaid that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Originally a mandatory component, the expansion was made optional by the Supreme Court’s ruling last June. It’s become a litmus test for Republican states, which have rejected the expansion even though the federal government would pay the entire cost through 2019 and at least 90 percent afterward. The expansion would have provided insurance to500, 000 North Carolinians.

 

6. VOTING LAWS: As in many Republican-controlled states, legislators have proposed requiring a photo ID to vote. would reduce early voting time from two weeks to one and end same-day registration; one lawmaker wants to ban early voting on Sundays because, he implied, the day should be kept sacred. Early voting laws and same-day registration are generally thought to benefit young, itinerant, and minority voters who lean Democratic, and early voting was credited with helping Obama win the state in 2008.

 

7. GUN LAWS: The legislature is working on a large bill that would. Among other changes, residents would no longer have to get pistol permits from their local sheriff; would no longer be barred from locking guns in cars at schools and universities; allow concealed carry in bars; and revoke public access to the names of concealed-carry permit holders. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and campus police chiefs oppose the bill.

 

8. EDUCATION: Legislators have approved school-choice plans that will grant low-income children vouchers to attend private schools. As has been the case around the country, Republicans have offered the plans as a way to ensure all children get a good education, while Democrats have decried it as a way to bleed public schools dry. The state’s preschool program is in for cuts — the question is just how large. McCrory’s budget reduces the family income threshold to qualify from 200 percent of federal poverty level to 130 percent. A House bill approved a cut to 100 percent of poverty level, which would reduce eligibility by 30,000 children.

 

9. STATE RELIGION: What’s impressive is the sheer variety of bills. For every very viable push, there’s one totally wacky one. For example: an attempt to create a state religion. In April, GOP lawmakers filed a bill that would do just that, though the body hasn’t moved on it since.

 

10. JUDICIAL PUBLIC FINANCING: In 2002, the state instituted public financing for judicial elections. Once candidates raised $39,450 in small donations, they were eligible for public financing if they agreed to stop private fundraising. Opponents — including Pope’s John Locke Foundation and Civitas Institute — have argued that the laws are a muzzle on free speech. Boosters say it’s a good way to maintain impartiality; a report this year found that where corporations are able to contribute to judicial races, they are. The law’s supporters also that Pope, as a major businessman and political donor, stands to benefit greatly if the law is removed. A 2011 try at ending the program, failed, but McCrory reintroduced it in his budget this year. The budget hasn’t yet passed, but the measure seems likely to succeed.

 Source:  http://ow.ly/mAHJS 

 

 

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The Right to Vote

Voting when the Constitution was ratified was basically restricted to white males. Freeing the slaves and enfranchising them, allowing women to vote and lowering the voting age to 21 each took individual Constitutional Amendments to bring to fruition. Until recently, though hard-fought and excruciatingly slow, the direction of change has been in favor of including larger segments of the population in our elections, not smaller ones. Without swift Congressional action, this decision by the Supreme Court could result in a drastic exclusion of increasing numbers of people from the electorate unjustly.

via The Right to Vote.

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We’ve Come Too Far There’s No Turning Back

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Steve Colbert sat down with Bill Moyers and discussed why the middle class is disappearing.  Moyers, who was present during Lyndon Johnson’s signing of voting rights bill, offered a revelation about the Supreme Court’s voting right’s decision. 

The basic premise of the American Dream is if you work hard you can make enough money to have a better life.  And, you can make a better life for yourself and your children. 

Instead, 49 million people in this country are using food stamps.  Not because they want to be on welfare, but because jobs today pay so low that they can’t afford a decent lively hood.  Moyer’s documentary, Two American Families premiering July 9th, talks to a few families.  He told us how these families were retrained, worked several jobs including a 2nd shift and found themselves making half the money they use to make from their factory jobs that had been closed. 

Comedy, as only Colbert can deliver it, started a satirical rendition about the middle class. 

Colbert quipped “You do understand capitalism don’t you” – here’s how Colbert explains it:  “the middle class did it to themselves:  they unionized, demanded better working conditions, they demanded better pay and we had no choice but to ship the jobs overseas.”

The conversation took a serious turn and concluded with a warning from Moyers.

The Supreme Court’s voting rights decision was a betrayal of people like Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Elijah Cummins, and Bernard Lafayette’s martyrdom. 

In time, the racist in the south will be overcome by the sheer weight of numbers by the Blacks and Hispanics and other people who are not going to put up with being mistreated again like they once were, Moyers warned.  The numbers will win in the long run.

Talk about a dose of inspiration.  “The number will win in the long run” applies to not only the population but more specifically it applies to the number of Democrats versus Republicans.  Democrats outnumber Republicans.  All we have to do is vote. 

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