Archive for November, 2011

The GOP War on Food Stamps

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

As the GOP continues the war on the middle class and poor, they have found a new target to focus their greed and venom.

We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls people to lives of complacencies and dependencies, into a permanent condition where they never get on their feet.” -Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)

I get home and realize I’m hungry. No need to ask myself what I feel like eating. It will be oatmeal for breakfast – all week long. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the assistance but $39 a week is hardly motivation to stay on food stamps long-term. I really wonder is the GOP stupid or is the war on food stamps just more GOP bashing of the middle class to free up more taxpayer money for tax breaks for the top 1%. “–Northeast Tennessee citizen attempting to survive on food stamps for a week.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, is one of the most efficient, effective, cost effective programs in America today. For many Americans, food stamps have softened the recession’s harsh crunch; this is true for more than 45 million Americans that depend on them for daily meals and the numbers are growing at an alarming rate. The actual benefit is minimal: on average, food stamp recipients can expect an allotment of approximately $30 per week.

However, as the race to 2012 builds and the crazies get crazier, the top GOP presidential hopefuls have turned on this life saving program with a vengeance. The immoral colors of the GOP are shinning through clearly.

In September, Rick Perry proclaimed a “Hunger Action Month,” expressing “deep concern” for his state’s hungry families. Just week’s later, Perry trash-talked food stamps to a South Carolina luncheon audience. Despite overwhelming evidence, (the census showed that in 2010, 3.9 million Americans – almost half of them children – were boosted out of poverty by food stamps), Perry denied food stamp’s role as an economic stimulus and an excuse to foster laziness.

When asked what he thought of the food-stamps-as-stimulus question, Romney opined, “I think that there’s some folks like President Obama himself that imagine that if you just throw money (food stamps) at people, that somehow that will make the economy better.”

Not to be outdone, Rick Santorum has been quick to remind voters that he was the first candidate to endorse Paul Ryan’s plan to transform food stamps into block grants, which will put a cap on aid and leaving millions of hungry Americans without assistance. Earlier in the summer, he charged Obama is “pushing more people on food stamps,” presumably by providing food stamps to people in need.

According to Santorum’s (lack of) logic, by granting aid to the poorest of the poor, the food stamps program is making poverty practically irresistible. (Who wouldn’t want their family to live on $30 per week of groceries, given the chance?) This ignorant logic is a heart felt belief among the Republican base.

The food-stamp hypocrisy rises even higher in (psycho) Michele Bachmann’s corner. Financial disclosures revealed that Bachmann has benefited heavily from federal aid over the years; her family farm, for example, received $260,000 in subsidies between 1995 and 2008. [Another example of conservative hypocrisy] But this hasn’t stopped her from bashing subsidies for low-income Americans.

What’s most terrifying about these attacks on the poor is not the denial of facts (food stamps work – people must eat to survive). It’s the fact that these self proclaimed moral hypocrites are moral(less) when it comes to helping those in need.

Here is where a clear divide of the parties can be seen. Republicans simply deny the notion that government has a responsibility to support Americans’ well-being and security, if someone is hungry – the hell with them!

This same attitude has been observed during the Republican presidential debates with those in attendance (GOP drones in the crowd). From booing a gay service man to applauding the high execution rate in Texas, from believing a young man with serious health issues should simply die, Republican’s show their disdain for compassion and the lust for everything unethical and immoral. They simlply don’t care about the plight of others, as long as they get theirs!

It’s a revival of the Reagan-era “welfare queen” fiction of lies, and the latest field of GOP false prophets is telling the tale with relish. They point at the masses of poor and hungry and accuse them of mooching on tax payers; even as they heap massive tax breaks (corporate welfare) on the rich (top 1%).

It’s easy for greedy folks like Paul Ryan to charge the poor with “fraud” [a catchy theme] as he stuffs his pockets full of money paid by the rich, loot from the GOP tax breaks for the top 1%, a small price for the rich in exchange for his whorish favors (tax breaks) lavished on his rich friends, especially when poor folks are the alleged culprits, and the facts haven’t stopped Ryan, conservatives and other Republican’s from spreading the lies.

Unless you’re an ignorant conservative, it’s hard to imagine being lulled into complacency by $30 a week.

“Sadly, more than 75 percent of households receiving food stamps currently include children. Almost a third contains disabled people or senior citizens. Americans in their 50s are 80 percent more likely to be food-insecure than they were ten years ago – and 17 million children are now in the same boat,” according to government statistics. No wonder the GOP hates the government, all these facts that expose their lies and greed.

The sad fact is food stamps is not even a safety net, it barely keeps people alive.

The False Prophets of the GOP

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Tonight was the eleventh GOP debate. The following are the GOP presidential candidates most discussed and mainly discussed because of the total ignorance they portray when they debate or speak. For comedy – they are manna from heaven with gaffe after gaffe, candidate mishap after candidate mishap. With this bunch, ignorance is bliss and abundant.

The GOP base moves from candidate to candidate to find the prophet that can beat Romney. But as soon as they anoint a new prophet, he/she speaks an outrageous gaffe and/or some seedy truth is unveiled and the false prophet is exposed. Questions remain! Will the Baptist bow to Mitt Romney? Of course they will. Will conservatives vote for a republican liberal? Of course they will. Will the tea party support Romney? Of course they will. The Baptist, conservatives and Tea baggers will do the bidding of the corporations; they will do whatever the rich tells them to do.

1. Newt Gingrich – Gingrich is best known for obstructionist tactics in 1995 that lead to a government shutdown. He is also the leaker among the GOP field. Sadly, he is seen by conservatives as moral(less) in a new poll. He is also known for his hypocrisy. He pounded President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinski in a sex scandal while he himself was having an affair with a woman, while his wife was dying of cancer. His most recent act of hypocrisy was when he said Barney Franks and Dodd should go to prison over accepting several hundred thousands of dollars from Freddie Mac while he received 1.6 million. He says it was payment for being a historical advisor. Gingrich’s is one of the most political animals of D.C. which seems to be at odds with republican extremist anti-government views.

Newt recently said Occupy protesters should get a job after they take a bath. He also said he would fire all janitors in schools and hire 13 and 14 yo child labor to clean the schools.

2. Mitt Romney – The “unwanted” front runner for the GOP in non conservative circles. He is a staunch supporter of corporate America and the 1%. He most recently claimed corporations are people with the same rights as people. Sadly he doesn’t feel the 99% or Occupy Wall Street protesters deserve any rights.

He is most known for his flip-flops in an effort to sway tea party support but his flip-flop history dates back to the last Presidential campaign. He is pro health care reform and anti health care reform. He is pro women’s right to choose and anti women’s rights to choose. He supported the oppressive bill in Mississippi that outlawed all contraception until it was defeated in a landslide. He is a financial fundraising powerhouse. Romney’s flip-flop lying ways are becoming his trade mark and his signature mark for lack of character.

3. Herman Cain – Cain is an ultra conservative and tea party favorite. He was the latest leading flavor of the month in the GOP field until he experienced a series of gaffs. First he said the Taliban ran Libya than he went blank when asked if he agreed with Obama’s Libya’s policy. His ignorance of foreign policy has proven fatal to his campaign lead. It was also recently discovered that all his “loved” sound bites are actually stolen video game lingo. His gaffes have become such a problem; the press has been pressuring him for explanations. Cain has just requested and received secret service protection which means – no more press questions.

4. Rick Perry – The great GOP hope has turned out to be anything but. Perry was a hopeful contender of “the anybody but Romney” GOP base but fell from grace when his ignorance was exposed during a debate when he could not remember one of three key government departments he would gut. He does not believe in science, hell, he does not believe in anything logical or of intelligence. He is proud to be the Governor of the state that executes the most people. He said Social Security was a Ponzi scheme. He wants to recall health care reform and let the insurance companies ration health care to whom they choose and deny care to whom they choose. He also said, “the housing market should collapse”, folks should loose everything they have and “let the market work it out”. {Does he mean the same market that created the mess that collapsed our economy?} Perry served as Al Gore for President as his Texas campaign coordinator.

5. Ron Paul – “The intellectual grandfather” of the tea party. In his third run for the White House, Paul has called for harsh cuts, elimination of social security and Medicare, which he believes is unconstitutional. He is the extreme libertarian. Paul has extremely loyal followers, much like a cult and he raises tremendous amounts of money.

6. Rick Santorum – Extremely right-wing social conservative. He is battling Bachmann and Perry for the “wing-nut” tea party votes. He favors tax breaks for the rich, doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose or the rights of gays to serve in the military or breath.

7. Michele Bachmann – Founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. Besides her numerous and patently false statements, she supports the end of Medicare and Social Security. She wants to repeal health care reform and deny women the right to choose. She is the number 1 wing-nut in America.

8. Jon Huntsman – Left his position with Obama to run as an unwanted candidate of the GOP. Although he warns his party to not move too much to the right, he is very right-wing, a supporter of the tea party, and wants to end Medicare as we know it.

Many important questions remain. Who will raise and not fall from grace with the Republican base? Which candidate can withstand the test of ignorance that seems to be a requirement of conservative voters? Will a Liberal Northern Republican be the GOP candidate? Will the Southern Baptist bow to Romney?

More Violence Against Occupy Movement

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

University of California, Davis – On Friday, a group of UC, Davis students, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on campus, became the latest victims of police brutality to be captured by camera and on video. The students are show peacefully seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer brandishes a red canister of pepper spray, showing it off for the crowd before dousing the seated students in a heavy, thick mist. Eleven students received medical treatment while two students were hospitalized, one woman was treated for chemical burns.

“Over four hundred UC Davis students were peacefully protesting rising tuition costs. The student occupation was less than twenty-fours before the police brutality began. The main objective for the police was removing the tents. … The students did have a right to be on campus, they were assembling peacefully and the campus was open at the time.” The cops were dressed in full riot gear while the students sat, silent, arms embraced.

The film footage clearly shows the students were peaceful and the police had no reason to resort to a violent response.

As the officer began spraying the group of students, onlookers screamed, “Don’t do it! Don’t you do it!” Two officers have been suspended as anger spreads over the incident.

After the pepper spraying, the crowd of students began marching down the quad. The UC Davis cops? They’re pushed back down the walkway and finally leave.

Today, over four thousand students protested on the campus of UC Davis. The shocking violence has the attention of the American people. More importantly, Americans ask why is it necessary to use such extreme violence against peaceful Occupy Movement protesters? The extremists’ right-wing and Republicans continue to bash the Occupy protesters while protecting their rich friends-the targets of the Occupy Movement.

Occupy Movement Becomes Mobile and Bloody

Friday, November 18th, 2011

New York– Today a large crowd of Occupy protesters hit the streets in New York City. Across the nation, this scene was repeated, as Occupy protests swell as protesters carry out a “Call to Action” to disrupt Wall Street, other financial activities and traffic. Sadly these acts of free speech were met with police violence as thousands were arrested nationally. In New York, the violence peeked as protesters and journalists were beaten and arrested.

Pictures of a bloody 20 yo portrayed today’s violence. The police said the bloodied young man identified himself as Brandon Watts, 20, and has been arrested at least four times since the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began. The police said Mr. Watts fell and hit his head.

Mr. Watt’s prior arrests at Occupy Wall Street, the police said, involved resisting arrest on Sept. 24, loitering in disguise on Sept. 28, escaping from a prisoner van on Oct. 14 and having stolen orange mesh fencing on Oct. 28.

Fox news, the mouth piece of the 1% calls the middle class struggle – communism, socialism and anarchy. When you see the right attack in unison, nerves are being struck and the 99% are striking nerves. They proclaim the Occupy movement dead today but news reports appear to show a different picture.

Occupy Bill Haslam

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Wade Munday is a writer in Nashville. When Bill Haslam was elected the 52nd Governor of Tennessee, he was chided quite often for running a vacuous campaign. It can be argued he is either a prop of the Republican political machine in the state or he is bland. Television ads are designed to say as little as possible in 30 seconds or less, but Haslam’s ads weren’t as educational as a pillow fight with Kim Kardashian. One ad showed the former Macy’s executive talking about bringing down healthcare costs-something he failed to do during his first legislative session and something he has no answer for. In his ubiquitous gray suit and black backdrop, the Governor looks downright affable even if he doesn’t seem to have much substance. He’s a nice guy one assumes. A very wealthy, nice guy.

But now amidst the Occupy Nashville protests/ encampments/ Southern Festival of Books patrons, Bill Haslam has verified that no matter how friendly he is he is not that smart. Sending 75 State Troopers to arrest a handful of tame protesters takes Zach Wamp’s statement, “I’ll meet President Obama at the border,” to an entirely different level. If this weren’t a group of “ordinary-looking” Tennesseans but let’s say a group of Muslims protesting the state’s overzealous approach in attempting to impinge upon their inherent rights as citizens, what would Haslam do? I would like to think state-funded evangelists would be deployed to save souls, but in reality I think he’d send in the National Guard. He’d do that because he doesn’t know what else to do.

In his first term in office he was manhandled by the National Rifle Association and others. He might be Governor of Tennessee, but he has no more authority than Kim Kardashian armed with a pillow. (She’s really taking a beating in this post.) By presiding over a nationally-mocked Legislative session with bills such as “Guns in Bars,” he’s proven that he can be little more than a puppet. By cowering in front of 54 protesters and ordering their arrest, he’s shown a lack of understanding of basic human rights and freedoms of speech. In this episode where he threatens and arrests protesters in a public space, the means defile the end. He ignited a fire under the rumps of Tennesseans concerned with their right to protest, and he lost this first political battle among citizens, not legislators, of Tennessee. Not a smart move for someone called Governor.

National Crackdown on Occupy Protesters

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

During the early morning hours, across the nation, in New York, Portland, St. Louis, Denver, and other cities, a police state was imposed on occupy protesters. Police employed force to beat and arrest protesters in a guise to clean the parks. As soon as protesters were arrested, the police dismantled the occupy camps across the nation.

New York – Emergency-service trucks rumbled up Broadway to positions on two sides of Zuccotti Park. Powerful lights blinked on, illuminating about 220 protesters in tents and sleeping bags. The one-square-block plaza was as bright as day. But it was only 1 a.m.

The voices of the police echoed from loudspeakers throughout the financial district. Officers swept through the park, rolling over tents and sleeping bags. All across America, The predawn operation in New York was repeated by mayors across the country.

But the message was clear: Occupy Wall Street’s two-month encampment was coming to a sudden and violent end. In New York, a full scale media blackout was attempted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg but failed as the event was covered by video that streamed across the internet.

On Tuesday evening, after a judge agreed that officials could ban tents and tarps, hundreds of protesters without sleeping gear returned to the park, began to meet and prepared for the next phase of the battle. One protester said, “This will be a catalyst. This reminds everyone who was occupying exactly why they were occupying” according to the AP.

Mr. Bloomberg’s order to clear out the encampment prompted criticism and praise. Some business owners seemed pleased, while various liberal groups, labor leaders, politicians, and civil libertarians denounced the move as an unjustified infringement on free speech.

The protesters were threatening to disrupt the stock exchange and city subways on Thursday with demonstrations marking their two months’ occupation of Zuccotti Park. This seemed to be the main reason for the eviction notice by the mayor.

NASHVILLE – Two days ago Occupy Nashville protesters won again. Occupy Nashville is delighted that charges were dropped this morning against our members who were illegally arrested last month. In a post on their web page, “We would like to thank our attorneys for their hard work and dedication. We would like to thank our occupiers, supporters.”

A flood of support for Wall Street protesters poured in after Gov. Bill Haslam imposed a curfew that led to the arrests of 55 people in Nashville, according to public records obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Of nearly 400 emails sent to the Republican governor’s office, only 11 supported his actions.

Oakland – A day after the Occupy Oakland camp was cleared out by the police, protesters there on Tuesday planned to march to join Occupy Cal demonstrators at the University of California at Berkeley. Protesters have said that they intend to repitch their tents on campus after an attempt to do so last week was thwarted by the police. Oakland protesters have seen the most violent oppression with one Iraq veteran receiving head injuries due to police actions.

Denver – On Tuesday in Denver, cold weather has affected the turnout. There were only about a dozen people at a park across from the state capitol building, down substantially from the past six weeks, during which the police made approximately 84 arrests of people who had established an encampment there.

Boston – Demonstrators at Occupy Boston, one of the larger encampments in the country, with about 140 tents on Tuesday, said they had been warily watching the raids elsewhere. On Tuesday, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers representing the Occupy Boston movement asked a Superior Court judge for an injunction barring the City of Boston and the police from removing protestors from the encampment.

Los Angeles – While the numbers of protesters around the country have fallen due to cold temperatures, they grow larger in Los Angeles, where people are camped on the lawn of City Hall. Some have built plywood structures decorated with anti-Federal Reserve murals.

One thing remains certain, across the nation, every time the occupy protesters are evicted, they come back and the numbers grow larger. It seems unwise to crack down on the Occupy movement just two days before their movement’s anniversary.

Flavor of the Month

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The Republican Presidential “circus” Primary continues and the “flavor of the month” continues to be the main story as social conservatives scramble to reject Mitt Romney. Neo-cons have jumped from one failed candidate to another in search of a prophet to lead them. The 2012 presidential race tells us one thing, it’s that social conservatives — and conservatives more generally — will tire of the Godfather Cain and continue the search for the next big thing.

Amazingly, Herman Cain has moved ahead to lead the GOP pack as he continues to make one major mistake after another. For most political candidates, it would be a political knock out punch to not know that China has had nuclear capacity for years. But Herman Cain has no clue of this and much more relevant facts relating to economic and international matters. Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 tax code to fix America’s broken economy would in fact be another massive tax break for the rich, as would most GOP backed flat tax schemes.

It’s become the whack-o primary, “anybody but Romney”, as Republicans scramble in desperation for a gladiator to take on President Obama, so candidates get elevated to extraordinary heights so quickly they can’t maintain the altitude and ignorance levels required that controls the thought process of the Republican minded voter.

Cain is the latest of a type that began, amazingly enough, with “The Donald” Donald Trump, who surged in opinion polls before deciding not to run after his poll numbers plummeted.

Then came Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) who was hot “politically” for 15 minutes until she won the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa and the day Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race.

Perry’s rise among conservatives was billed as the “next coming” but turned out to be another whack-o gone down in flames. From the moment his national day of prayer showcased Perry on a stage full of “snake handlers,” religious extremists, including prophets who claim “the statue of liberty is the modern day symbol of Jezebel and wickedness”, “Oprah is the modern day Jezebel,” and “the Japan Emperor slept with the sun goddess which caused the collapse of the Japanese market and tsunami”, as reported by CNN.

His position on immigration as well as his executive order mandating that teenage girls receive the HPV vaccine raised questions about his conservative bona fides. From day the story broke on the racists message on the rock at his hunting ranch through his recent poor performances in the GOP debates, Perry’s star has quickly faded. Unlike the rest of the group, Perry had a strong fundraising ability so don’t count him out.

Cain zoomed to the top tier off the strength of his ability to spew rhetoric; he gave the best speech at Ames and enjoyed a surprising victory in a Florida straw poll last month. He currently is in second place in Iowa running one point behind Romney. A new poll that came out today shows Cain leading all candidates at 30% with Romney trailing at 23%.

Cain is gaffe-prone and is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment charge which only seems to embellish him with neo-cons who are willing to toss their social conservatism for any discretion of a GOP candidate.

Cain is the “early fall” flavor but if Cain isn’t able to sustain his momentum, who might fill the void? The two most obvious candidates are former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) or former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.). The race for the top GOP wing nut continues and the current winner of this circus appears to be President Obama.

Voting Made More Difficult

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Wade Munday is a writer in Nashville. Thank God I’ve never known what it’s like to be denied a vote in an election. For my generation, it’s more likely that we choose not to vote. Some of us are turned off by the political class and their squabbles. Some of us feel better being aloof and disinterested in the political process. And finally, some of us just forget to take part in our elections; we’re too tired, washing our hair or too busy on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November on even years.

For the young at heart who do know what it’s like to be turned away at the polls, I cannot imagine the frustration. For two Tennessee women, Dorothy Cooper (96) and Virginia Lasater (91), they’ve seen politicians take away their vote, give it back to them, and then put up roadblocks to make it more difficult for them.

The leading Republican in the Tennessee Senate claimed he’d never heard of Dorothy Cooper. This underlies a critical problem with Senator Ron Ramsey- he’s never spent time speaking with senior citizens who find it difficult to get to a voting booth. Really? He represents over 200,000 people in East Tennessee and not a single person has found this photo ID requirement cumbersome? Who is he talking to on those listening tours? He doesn’t know Dorothy Cooper or Virginia Lasater, because he’s not courting their vote or representing their interests. The only people standing up for them are the Tennessee Democratic Party and Tennessee Citizen Action.

Rather than bringing more people into our political process, the law excludes people. Rather than making the process better, the law diminishes the voices of individuals who are already not being heard at the ballot box. Further, Tennessee claims the lowest turnout among female voters. This law and the tenor of the debate surrounding it do nothing to encourage voter participation.

Yes, voting is difficult for a lot of people. Some seniors need someone to drive them to the polls. Some students need to arrange to vote around their class and work schedule, and parents need to figure out what to do with the kids. With so many things competing for our time and attention, there’s absolutely good reason to make the process more complicated for those who are already struggling to get to the voting booth. Ron Ramsey, if you’ve never heard about the problem it means you’re ignoring the people you were elected to represent, even the ones that are not going to vote for you.

Occupy Nashville Gains Global Attention

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Nashville-A federal judge has ruled that the Occupy Nashville movement protesting at Legislative Plaza can continue for now. The federal judge said regulations created last week in response to the protest were “not legally” implemented by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration. On two occassions the Gov. attempted to remove the protestors under an imposed curfew, on two occassions Judge Nelson threw out the charges.

The governor and state backed down in the face of a federal lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee on behalf of Occupy Nashville. The lawsuit charges that the recent arrests and the new regulations are violations of the protesters’ First Amendment rights. The ACLU requested a temporary restraining order. State attorneys did not object at a hearing Monday afternoon, and U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger granted the request.

It is amazing that Gov. Bill Haslam appeared to not have a clue of the negative media attention that his order to arrest protesters would receive. He should have realized that sending in seventy-five (75) Tennessee State Troopers to arrest fifty-four (54) protesters would come accross as heavy handed, as it was. It appears that the national stage is not the only place Republicans struggle with the Occupy Wall Street movement as the movement sweeps across the nation. The story about the Occupy Nashville protest has gone global. The story about the temporary injunction was the lead story this morning on CNN.

The AP and other reports of the Occupy Nashville arrests, including the arrest of a Nashville Scene reporter, are showing up worldwide in the New York Times, UK Daily Mail, Reuters, Denver Post, LA Times, UK Guardian, Philadelphia Inquirer, Seattle Times, Washington Post, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, San Francisco Chronicle, Sky News Australia, Daily Beast, Paris Post-Intelligencer, Detroit Free Press, etc.