Archive for the ‘unemployment’ Category

Content in Tennessee

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

In 2010, the political landscape in Tennessee changed. A large stash of “dark money” sweeps the Tennessee Democratic Party from power, for the first time since Reconstruction. Candidates of the Republican Party were elected in mass, based on empty promises of job creation and a focus on education. It did not seem to matter that many of these candidates were not vetted; more less qualified to hold political office or even hold a regular job in the common job market. The voters did not seem to care they were electing unqualified people to office.

Unfortunately, the lack of qualification of candidates was not the only thing wrong with the “political winds of change” that affected Tennessee and many other southern states that created the perfect political storm. This political change was driven by much darker forces and was not based on the normal issues that affect most elections or spark most political up evil. This change was fueled by racism and hatred of President Obama. And it occurred at a time when control of political power was up for grabs for ten years, not just for an election cycle.

It occurred at a time when the political party who won the state, would control the state for ten years, and be allowed to redistrict the political landscape and reallocate the political power of a state. The masterminds of this political up evil had more important goals in mind than just political victory and they were more than happy to use hatred to achieve their vile agenda. Nor, did it matter that mindless teabaggers would serve as minions to assist the rich in reaching their goal.

We have since seen the devastation of this political change and the damaging impact it has had on the poor and middle class in our state and nation. It did not take long to realize the promises of job creation and focus on education were empty words “lies” by the GOP to simply gain power and control.

And since the election, the GOP has taken undemocratic steps to entrench their political power. Adopting measures to ensure voter suppression on the vary people their vile agenda has harmed the most: the old, young, poor, women, sick and minorities. They have attacked women healthcare, workers’ rights, gay rights, minority rights, civil rights, and dismantled the safety net that has successfully protected the poor, old, sick and middle class since the Great Depression, while continuing to give large tax breaks to the rich and corporations.

It does not seem to matter that they have lost national power as a party, they seem happy with the short term state power and/or regional power they have achieved and they have used this power to undermine national laws and political legislation.

Four years later, the attacks on women’s rights, voter’s rights, workers’ rights immigration, and civil rights has escalated by the GOP. Attacks on the poor and middle class have also escalated as the GOP attempts to dismantle and gut public education and social programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment compensation.

Not since the Great Depression, has the GOP agenda been so void of a moral compass.Republicans are attempting to dismantle the vary programs designed to help those in need, during tough economic times, like now, when 40 million Americans need government subsidized food assistance to simply live and 1.3 million Americans lost their unemployment compensation, yesterday, because of GOP cuts. In months, another 1.9 million will lose their unemployment compensation. The GOP don’t even seem concerned about the additional loss of 240,000 jobs that will occur from this loss of this money from the economy. Nothing, not even the welfare of the nation, is more important than their vile agenda.

In Tennessee, more than 20% of Tennesseans receive government assistance for food and experienced cuts in SNAP assistance. More than 18,000 Tennesseans lost their unemployment yesterday.

The GOP faithful calls these expenditures on humanity – waste and too expensive to afford, yet, they don’t hesitate giving large tax breaks to the rich and corporations. They spoke not one objection when it came to the costs of twelve years of two “unfunded” wars and giving corporate “welfare” to the greed driven military contractors. They never seem to have a problem with waste when it comes to giving large tax breaks to their rich friends but God forbid – we help the poor or middle class during tough economic times.

Four years later, unemployment in Tennessee is 8.1% while it is 7% nationally. The Tennessee legislature has not passed nor discussed one act of legislation related to job creation. Nothing has been done to strengthen public education, in fact the GOP works feverishly to dismantle it. The Republican “super majority” legislation has been more concerned with catering to their gun lobbyists’ friends and other special interest groups. Our governor is too busy handling his messy shady dealings to something that would actually help middle class folks like extending Medicaid for 170,000 Tennesseans.

Did Tennesseans get what they bargained for when the voted red in 2010? Is there any buyer’s remorse or are folks in Tennessee simply content with the sad state of affairs of our state as a result of that vote?

Bill Haslam’s Crusade Against the Middle Class

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

tndp logoBrandon Puttbrese was the Communications Director for the TNDP. Our families should be working their way into the middle class, not falling out of it. Tennesseans used to know that if they worked hard and played by the rules, they’d be able to care of their families, send their kids to college, and have a secure retirement, but today, the rules have been rewritten by lobbyists for the wealthy and well connected.
We have to reclaim security for working families and we can do it by restoring Tennessee values. To make progress for all Tennesseans, we must: put an end to the extremism and corruption in the government; invest in our future by rewarding hard work, expanding quality health care to all Tennesseans; and make sure everyone, from CEOs to working families, does their fair share and plays by the rules.

We’re not going to cut our way to prosperity or build a stronger middle class by giving more tax breaks to big corporations and millionaires. To expand the middle class, we must encourage and support our innovators, educators and builders. We need an economy that creates jobs of the future and rewards all hard-working Tennesseans — not one built on inside deals for well-connected CEOs and risky handouts for big special interests that threaten our entire economy and shortchange working and middle class families.

We need to restore security for the middle class and create an economy that rewards hard-working families. Instead, Bill Haslam has rubberstamped an extreme agenda that doesn’t create jobs and pushed top-down economic policies that pad his own pockets, reward his wealthy friends and damage the middle class.
Haslam’s tax plan will rack up $1 billion worth of massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, while he’s made big cuts to children’s services, higher education, health care, public safety and programs that help Tennesseans find work.

Bill Haslam has doubled-down on extreme policies that hurt working and middle class Tennesseans — denying 400,000 citizens fully funded Medicaid coverage, letting big business and lobbyists write their own rules, cutting programs that invest in workers and their families, and eliminating rules and oversight that hold government officials accountable.

Haslam’s anti-public school policies fail our students and threaten our state economy—cutting teacher salaries, over-relying on expensive standardized testing, and diverting funds away from public schools to an out-of-state, for-profit corporation that streams classes on the internet.

Not only did Haslam pass the biggest budget in Tennessee history, Haslam’s corrupt inside dealing outsourced hundreds of Tennessee jobs and directed hundreds of millions worth of state contracts to business partners and wealthy campaign contributors.

Haslam made his fortune at Pilot Oil, where he and his family have made millions from a scheme that preyed on their own customers. Pilot Oil executives have admitted stealing from truck drivers and even targeting honest, hard-working new Americans.

Haslam has rubberstamped an extreme tea party agenda that doesn’t create jobs and, worse yet, harms security working and middle class families; from Haslam’s discriminatory voter ID law and guns in parking lots (even when business owners don’t want them) to defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating workplace protections for LGBT Tennesseans.
Bill Haslam’s special interest dealing and constant secrecy proves he can’t be trusted. He won’t come clean about his secret relationships with high-powered lobbyists and he’s still hiding his income tax returns because he pays a lower rate than working Tennesseans. If we can’t trust him to be honest about his dealings, how can he be trusted to build a stronger middle class?

WEAKENING MIDDLE CLASS SECURITYRebuilding a fair economy that strengthens the middle class by attracting good American jobs investing in education, and expanding access to affordable health care should be our top priority. But Bill Haslam has a different view. Haslam slashed security for working families, rigged the rules to favor big special interests, and cut programs that strengthen the middle class. Instead of asking everyone to do their fair share, Haslam gave the wealthy and big corporations massive new tax breaks and hopes that job growth will trickle down from the top.

Hurt Working Families to Pad Profits for Corporate Special InterestsIf we’re going to build a fair economy, big corporations and wealthy CEOs have to play by the same rules as working families and the middle class. Bill Haslam and lobbyists have re-written the rules to put profits for special interests ahead of working families.

• Good-paying jobs are key for middle class security, but Haslam has signed multiple laws that drive down the wages of working men and women.

o Haslam eliminated prevailing wage rules on state contracts, which allows wealthy contractors to pad their profits by slashing the wages of workers.

o Haslam repealed local wage ordinances, boosting profits by cutting worker pay back to $7.25 an hour.

• One of Bill Haslam’s signature laws doesn’t put one more Tennessean back on the job, but it does cut payments to workers who get hurt on the job — by a third.

o It’s already difficult to make ends meet when a family member is out of work. Haslam’s new law not only increases bureaucratic red tape and burdens working families, it gives businesses a new financial incentive to fire injured workers.

• In Bill Haslam’s world, special interests don’t have to play by the same rules as the hard-working middle class. Haslam’s cap on damages law shields irresponsible and reckless businesses that injure and kill Tennesseans from being held fully accountable in court.

o By putting a price tag on Tennesseans, the law protects profits for businesses and corporations that harm our families. Haslam signed the measure into law even while his multi-billion dollar company Pilot Flying J faced lawsuits for negligence.

Eliminated Programs that Put Tennesseans Back to Work
With more than a quarter million Tennesseans looking for jobs, we need to build an economy that rewards responsibility and increases opportunity for our families. Bill Haslam’s top-down agenda has boosted profits for his business friends and out-of-state corporations while cutting programs that help hard-working families find jobs. As a result, there are more Tennesseans looking for good jobs today than there was a year ago.

• To date, Bill Haslam has blocked Medicaid expansion, a move that would create 18,000 good-paying jobs and provide a billion dollar boost to Tennessee’s health care economy.

• Instead of bolstering efforts to get Tennesseans back work, Bill Haslam shut down 34 career centers that helped citizens find and apply for jobs. The change in priorities means residents in 34 counties will have to drive elsewhere to get help with creating and posting resumes, skills training and other job-finding services.

• With unemployment rising in the state, the Haslam administration eliminated a rapid-response team that helped workers caught in mass lay-offs prepare for new jobs.

• Haslam fired 71 Economic and Community Development workers who assisted city and county leaders in planning for new growth. The move passed planning expenses onto local taxpayers.

Destabilizing Public Schools, Shortchanging StudentsThere is nothing more important to our economy than educating our children, and that’s not going to happen if we overcrowd our classrooms and divert money away from public schools. Preparing the next generation of leaders and innovators begins at home, but our public schoolteachers play a vital role in equipping our kids with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. Bill Haslam’s top-down privatization agenda threatens our students’ economic future by driving away high-quality teachers and leaving our public schools less secure.

• Bill Haslam’s first education decision put a commissioner with only three years of classroom experience — Kevin Huffman — in charge of a $6 billion education budget.

o This shortsighted experiment has been a costly and abject failure for students. The top-down management style of Haslam’s education commissioner has drawn the ire of school superintendents, educators and parents, crashed morale, and driven away high-quality teachers.

o In September 2013, nearly half of the superintendents in the state signed a letter to Haslam saying educators did not “feel respected or valued” by his administration and that teachers felt “voiceless and powerless.”

• Our kids need great teachers, and we’re not going to recruit and retain those teachers if Haslam’s administration keeps attacking them. In 2011, Haslam signed a law taking away teachers’ right to negotiate together for decent wages and benefits, small class sizes and the kind of things only teachers know about like what works best in the classroom.

o The next year, Haslam proposed increasing classroom sizes — meaning your kids would get less one-on-one time with their teachers.

o While Haslam gave tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, his administration cut teaching salaries and financial incentives for teachers who earn advanced degrees.

o Haslam instituted a flawed teacher evaluation system that scores more than half of educators on the test scores of kids they don’t even teach; Haslam’s new mandates put less focus on student learning and more focus on bureaucratic paperwork.

o Rather than attracting great educators, Haslam’s top-down orders are costing us great teachers. In 2010, the year preceding Bill Haslam and Commissioner Kevin Huffman taking office, 1,524 teachers retired; by 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 2,197 teachers retired — a stunning 44 percent increase. In 2012, one in five teachers who were eligible for retirement did so, approximately double the rate in 2010.

• Even though a standardized test never taught a child anything, Haslam’s administration has doubled down on high-stakes testing — at a cost of nearly $200 million year. Haslam’s top-down education policies are robbing students of critical thinking and forcing schools to “teach to the test.” Too many of our tax dollars are going to investors when they should be spent on students.

• Bill Haslam put corporate profits ahead of our children’s education. Instead of investing in small class sizes or expanding pre-K, Haslam diverted millions of tax dollars from public schools to a for-profit corporation that streams lessons to students over the internet.

o Last year students enrolled in Haslam’s for-profit school showed less growth than students in every other public school in the state.

o Haslam’s for-profit school scheme has failed students two years in a row. News reporters even caught the company deleting the bad test grades of students.

o Haslam’s own education commissioner called the for-profit school’s performance “unacceptable.” But instead of holding the for-profit school accountable for failing students, Haslam signed a new law protecting their multi-million dollar contract.
• When we should be strengthening public schools, Bill Haslam has proposed privatization schemes — like private school vouchers — that divert money away from public schools and have failed to deliver on the results that were promised wherever they were tried.

• Bill Haslam punished students by cutting $3.4 million from Nashville schools because the elected school board refused the application of a well-connected charter school. In retaliation, his administration then supported efforts to strip local school boards of the authority to approve charter school applications.

• On top of diverting money from public schools and undermining the educators who are shaping our students, Haslam’s top-down approach ignores the harsh realities facing Tennessee families:

o We will improve education by improving the lives of children. One out of four children in Tennessee live in poverty and Haslam signed a law to cut benefits for the children of Tennesseans who are out of work.

o More than 40 percent of expecting mothers in Tennessee don’t receive adequate pre-natal care. And while healthy mothers raise healthy children, Haslam has blocked funding to expand Medicaid, which could extend quality health coverage to 191,000 women in Tennessee.

• If Tennessee is going to win the good-paying jobs of the future and strengthen our economy, we must increase graduation rates at our colleges and community colleges. Unfortunately, Haslam’s plans are putting a good education out of reach thousands of Tennesseans.
o Under Bill Haslam, tuition rates have increased on working and middle class families in Tennessee every year, saddling students with more debt that hurts our economy.

o While tuition rates in Tennessee are increasing faster than most of the country, Haslam has slashed funding for higher education.

o Instead of investing in Tennessee colleges or in students by lowering tuition costs, Bill Haslam spent $5 million to advertise for an out-of-state, online college.

Blocking Health Care Security
Instead of working to strengthen Medicaid and improve access to affordable health care for all families, Bill Haslam has cut funding for important health care programs. Access to affordable, quality health care is key to building a stronger middle class, but Bill Haslam has made it harder for Tennessee families to get the care they need.

• Haslam opposed the Affordable Care Act and has blocked federal funds to expand Medicaid, an expansion that could extend quality health coverage to more than 330,000 working Tennesseans and invest billions in Tennessee’s economy.
o If Haslam continues blocking Medicaid expansion, more Tennesseans will die because they lack health coverage. Studies show Medicaid expansion would save lives; health coverage especially helps poor women and children in rural counties, the elderly, and black Tennesseans.

o Bill Haslam’s decision to deny working families Medicaid coverage has already caused hospitals to shut down programs and fire thousands of workers, which has costs our economy millions. Haslam’s continued indifference puts more than 50 hospitals at risk of closing, a shameful scenario that threatens to make health care less accessible to the rural families who need it.

o Haslam’s inaction on Medicaid is punishing the poor. 161,000 Tennesseans in working poor families who would qualify for Medicaid coverage will have nowhere to turn but emergency rooms, which hurts our hospitals and our economy.

• After spending $10 million of taxpayer money to study health exchanges, Bill Haslam evaded his responsibility to Tennesseans when he decided against building a locally operated health insurance marketplace that would help our families get insured.

• Instead of working to solve health care problems facing Tennesseans, Haslam opposed the Affordable Care Act and would:
o allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition, putting as many as 2.8 million Tennesseans at risk;

o re-institute lifetime caps on coverage, meaning those with long-term and life threatening illnesses may be cut off from their coverage;

o take away free preventive health care screenings like mammograms for women;

o no longer allow young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26;
o charge women up to 50 percent more for their coverage than men.

• As governor, Haslam cut funding for a program to aid Tennesseans with disabilities.

Slashing the Safety Net for Seniors
Tennesseans who’ve worked their whole lives deserve dignity in their golden years — they’ve earned it, and they deserve it. But to pay for his massive tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy, Haslam slashed vital programs that Tennessee seniors rely on for a secure retirement.

• Bill Haslam cut millions from in-home care for seniors, forcing elderly Tennesseans out of the home they have lived in for years and into nursing homes.

• Haslam supports repealing the health reform law that has strengthened Medicare and saved Tennessee seniors $109 million on life-saving prescription drugs.

Fiscal Cliff Averted? Tentative Deal Reached

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

WASHINGTON — Tonight, last-minute negotiations between the White House, represented by Vice-President Joe Biden, and the Senate Republican leadership, secured a tentative agreement to avert going over the fiscal cliff. The measure will not pass in time for Congress to meet its Dec. 31 deadline.

The Senate, in a pre-dawn vote just two hours after the deadline passed to avert automatic tax increases, overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday morning at 2:42 a.m. that would allow tax rates to rise only on affluent Americans while temporarily suspending sweeping, across-the-board spending cuts. The vote was 89-8. Congress is expected to vote today.

Under the agreement, tax rates would jump to 39.6 percent from 35 percent for individual incomes over $400,000 and couples over $450,000, while tax deductions and credits would start phasing out on incomes as low as $250,000, a clear win for President Obama, who campaigned on higher taxes for the wealthy.

Just last month and for months, Republicans in Congress said they would never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Mr. Obama won re-election on the promise that he would raise those rates and raise them permanently.

Democrats also secured a full year’s extension of unemployment insurance without strings attached and without offsetting spending cuts, a $30 billion cost.

In an effort to win over other Democrats uneasy with the proposal, Vice President Joe Biden who bargained directly with Republican leaders, traveled to the Capitol tonight for a 90-minute meeting with his former Senate colleagues. As negotiators ended, officials said that the two top Democrats on Capitol Hill — Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California — had signed off on the agreement.

Negotiators agreed to put off $110 billion in across-the-board cuts to military and domestic programs for two months while broader deficit reduction talks continue. Those cuts begin to go into force on Wednesday, and that deadline, too, might be missed before Congress approves the legislation.

The nature of the deal ensured that the war between the White House and Congressional Republicans on taxes and spending will continue at least until the spring.

There appears to be something for everyone to hate in this bill but most agreements generally contain sour grapes for both sides.

Paul Ryan: Void of a Moral Compass

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Mitt Romney’s pick of the tea party hero as his running mate completes his move to the extreme right. He has picked as his running mate Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP radical budget, which can best be described as the most extreme budget plan passed by a house of Congress.

Has Romney just committed political suicide? Have conservatives pushed Willard so far to the extreme right that he has completely pushed away Independents? A PUSH reminiscent of the commercial in response to Ryan’s plan showing a senior citizen being pushed over the cliff.

His running mate, Paul Ryan, is the radical author of the most extreme right-wing budget ever proposed in Congress. His plan will dismantle Medicare, privatize Social Security, and cut taxes for millionaires while raising taxes on the middle class.
Simply put, the policies Ryan stands for are a politically toxic brew. The question remains, will a majority of Americans be willing to drink this brew? The tea party faithful show they will bath in such a toxic brew but what about moderate Americans?

Paul Ryan isn’t just an extremist— like a serial killer, looks can be deceiving, he’s young, charming and smart. Some describe him as looking like “the boy next door.” Others describe him as Satan’s son. He’s the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Much can be said about Ryan’s policies and philosophies that embellish greed and selfishness. Ryan embraces the extreme philosophy of Ayn Rand. He worships Ayn Rand, a libertarian novelist, best known for her philosophy that centers on the belief that selfishness is “virtue.” Ryan like Rand describes altruism as “evil,” and condemns Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor.

Though he “half-heartedly” publicly rejected “her philosophies” in 2012, Ryan professes himself a strong believer and devotee to the hedonism of her centered philosophy. Ryan said, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told a D.C. gathering.

Ryan believes Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme.” In September of 2011, he agreed with Wacho Rick Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme”. He also advocates privatizing the Social Security and investing “gambling” it in stocks and bonds. He also supports removing all regulations, which were implemented to prevent a repeat of the orgy of greed that collapsed the financial and economic institutions; resulting in massive losses in the stock market of 2008.

Conservatives “falsely” claim privatization would outperform the current formula based for social security but the economic crisis of 2008 should serve as a wake-up call for those who seek to hinge Americans’ retirement on the stock market. In fact, a person with a private Social Security account similar to what Ryan proposes would have lost much of their retirement savings in 2008.

Ryan’s plan will raise taxes on the middle class and slashes taxes for millionaires. Ryan’s radical budget — which Romney embraces — replaces the current tax structure with two brackets — 25 percent and 10 percent — and cuts the top rate from 35 percent. As a result, the national debt would increase and the Federal tax collections would fall. His budget also proposes massive cuts in social programs. 62 percent of the savings from his plan would come from programs that benefit the lower- and middle-classes, who will also experience a large tax increase.

While Ryan would extend the Bush tax cuts for the top 1%, which are due to expire at the end of this year, he would not extend President Obama’s tax cuts for those with the lowest incomes, which will expire at the same time. The wealthy “earning more than $1 million a year, would see a large tax cut. The poor and middle class will see large tax increases.

Ryan also plans to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system. Ryan’s latest “voodoo” budget transforms the existing version of Medicare, in which the government provides seniors with a guaranteed benefit, into a “premium support” system. All future retirees would receive a small government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans. But since the premium support voucher will not keep up with increasing health care costs, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that new beneficiaries will pay large and increasing payments in the near future. Ryan’s plan also rises Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67.

Ryan’s radical budget would result in millions of lost jobs. His extreme budget calls for massive reductions in government spending. He has proposed cutting discretionary programs by approximately $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, which, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would “suck” demand “life” out of the economy and reduce employment though massive and prolonged layoffs.

At a time when education is essential to attract the jobs of the future, and jobs are becoming more technical in nature, even more education will be required to retain the better paying jobs, but Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more than 1 million students over the next ten years.

Of course, he supports corporate welfare. Ryan supports $40 billion in subsidies for big oil. In 2011, Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats (use of the term loosely) in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill. His budget would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks “corporate welfare” worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.” There is no place for alternative fuels in the Ryan plan, the tax breaks will continue to go to those who grease his palms and fill his pockets.

Don’t forget the best part of Ryan’s stand on big oil is the fact that he has ownership stakes in companies that benefit from oil subsidies. He “and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan,” the Daily Beast reported in June of 2011. His family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as ExxonMobil; a beneficiary of his tax breaks “corporate welfare”.

In one of the rare and most interesting clashes of viewpoints between Romney and Ryan are views on Romneycare. Ryan said, “I’m not a fan of [Romney’s health care reform] system,” when he did an interview with CSPAN in 2010. He argued that government is rationing care in the state and claimed that people are “seeing the system bursting by the seams, they’re seeing premium increases, rationing and benefit cuts.” He called the system “a fatal conceit” and “unsustainable.” He also feels Romney care is similar to Obamacare.

So for those who felt Romney would select a safe Vice-Presidential running mate, who would appeal to Independent voters, the jokes on you! His extreme selection of wing nut Paul Ryan may have the mad hatters dancing in the streets; it will surely have a more chilling effect on Independent voters and those who take the time to actually analyze the issues in this Presidential election.

What is worst, a liberal Massachusetts Republican Presidential candidate who lies and tries to act like a neo-conservative or a wing nut Vice-Presidential candidate who tries to act normal?

Why are so many Democrats smiling today?

Sexual Congress

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Wade Munday is a writer in Nashville – Borrowing the popular refrain from Tom Jones, “it’s not unusual to be loved by anyone,” amorousness seems extraordinary to some Tennessee Republicans who are scurrying in the next few weeks to pass legislation dealing with S-E-X.

As Chas Sisk writes in the Tennessean:
Bills dealing with sex, religion and guns may spark controversy. But they also give Republican lawmakers a chance to show where they stand and could help them head off the biggest challenge they face to re-election this year — a primary opponent who accuses them of having done too little to advance conservative causes.

What Trace Sharp called the 107th Sex Assembly and Democratic lawmaker Mike Turner inferred is the Tennessee Taliban has turned out to be one of the grossest public displays of affection for extremely conservative causes by Republicans in Tennessee. And Representative Turner is correct in saying that this isn’t just conservatism, this is religious extremism and Taliban totalitarianism.

The lawmakers who are elected in Tennessee to constitutionally pass a budget each year and with relatively little time for debate on that topic, have managed to discuss sex education, abortion (again), the Ten Commandments (again), and creationism (again). Being a lawmaker is a part time job, and while those lawmakers have time to argue bills regarding abortion and expanding gun rights they lack the power or ability to spur economic growth in the state? They’re capable of defending “Life” but they can’t create a single job?

Their strategy for governing runs parallel to the politics of running for office. Ignite controversy, inflame passions, and yell like Rick Santorum when the cameras are rolling.

I think what bothers most people about American politicians on either side of the aisle are their disingenuous displays of courage, the bravado of championing a pet project or issue. The results of being led by these phony convictions are bad laws that restrict our freedoms and limit our ability to move beyond our present reality. Sadly in Tennessee, we’ve seen a lot of our freedoms eroded because of our Republican-controlled Legislature. And that’s not so unusual.

This story was carried by the Daily Buzz.

GOP Leads America Down a Dark Path

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Have we been in a depression? Many feel it is time to call it what it is: depression. It is not a depression of 1930’s magnitude but it has been a depression, none the less. Unemployment has remained high from America to Europe. Political leaders, institutions and social norms are increasingly discredited. Democratic valves are under attack.

We have not had wide spread soup lines and we don’t have a Hitler but we have dire alarming economic and political signs. High unemployment, despair and the explosion of extremists groups have swept across America. Is America on a dark path unequal to any in her short history? Economic downturns and political strife have ebbed and flowed through her history but she always rebounded. Is there something different about the current situation that is more alarming and troublesome?

Those on the right have used the opportunity to attempt to dismantle social programs designed to assist those less fortunate in our society. They have also used the uncertainty of many to spread hatred and fear. Let’s talk in particular, about what’s happening across America in states recently taking over by Republican rule and the ongoing Republican Presidential Primary circus.

First of all, the economic crisis, created by the failing policies of the Bush Administration and his “rubber stamp” Republican Congress during the 2000-2008 political era that crippled America’s economic stability. Unemployment was skyrocketing while 750,000 jobs were being lost per month. Amid climbing unemployment, collapsing economic institutions, massive plant closings and crushing economic stagnation, enter stage left, Barack Obama, the newly elected President in 2008.

Second, virtually the day after the election, the Teabaggers movement was born. Amidst growing racism, hatred, and vile for America’s first African American President, the attack on democracy was born. As the teabagger movement grew, so did the assault on democracy. From hate filled attacks at town meetings, to racist motivated protests of these new anti government minions of the right. Through false claims of a grass roots movement, the far right fringes of the Republican Party had founded a political movement straight out of the bowls of hell. A movement fueled by racism and hatred, a movement reflective of the true Republican heart or lack thereof.

Specifically, demands for ever-harsher treatment of the poor, with no offsetting effort to foster growth, have done double damage to our economy. They have failed at economic policy, worsening unemployment without restoring confidence; slowly Obama has quailed the immediate threat of financial crisis, as it appears contained. But the right has created immense anger, for political “gains” reasons, as many Americans are furious at what is perceived, fairly or unfairly, as a heavy-handed exercise of Government power.

Nobody familiar with America’s history can look at this resurgence of hostility without feeling a shiver and moment of rear when you reflect back on darker days in America. Yet there may be worse things happening now.

In conclusion, just as a disease progresses, so has the far right hostility and vile ignorance. This has played out during the ongoing Republican Presidential Primary. An event that can best be described as a circus and wingnut convention, the political joke continues. The insanity that was born from the birther movement and vile Teabagger movement, has now affected the base of the Republican Party as the battle of the extremists and wingnuts wage on.

Their assault on democracy continues, as does their assault on the US Government. Fueled by ignorance and fear, those less enlightened on the right, continue their racially motivated hatred of President Barack Obama. As does their hatred of everything “Liberal”, the code word used to attack and demonize any social program that actually helps those in need. From Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, school lunches, women’s rights, minority rights, labor’s rights, student loans, the forty hour work week, overtime pay, public education, assistance to the poor, civil rights, voters rights and any basic human act of decency the right has deemed as socialism, through their fight for fascism and their attempts to dismantle democracy.

And they (the Republicans) need to rethink their failing economic policies and party platform. If they don’t, there will be more backsliding on democracy, racism, voter suppression and use of divisive issues that threaten the very democracy of America — and the breakup of the Republican Party may be the least of their worries. In this election, there are two distinct choices, what side are you on?

Left Behind

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Today, more than ever before, more and more Americans wonder if they have or will be left behind. They wonder about the American Dream and ask, “Is the American Dream still attainable?” Is the American Dream dead? Will I or my children and grandchildren be left behind? This sentiment has never been felt by so many Americans. There within lies the problem for Mitt (Willard) Romney, self proclaimed front runner of the GOP, in his run for the presidency.

Mitt Romney is the poster boy for the 1%. His political, and especially, economic beliefs, reflect this perception. There lays, not only the problem for Mitt Romney, but also for the Republican Party and its lust for power and control. This fear and/or worry are the nucleus “engine” of the Occupy Wall Street Protest. Recent polls show 75% of Americans share the sentiment of a deep betrayal and/or the excesses of the top 1%.

The economic collapse which occurred at the end of the Bush Presidency magnified the growing disparity between the top 1% and the 99%. The Bush response to the collapsing economy gave credence to the fears of the majority (99%) of Americans who felt they were left out.

People now remember the government backing the failing banks, pumping massive infusions of tax payer money into them, through no strings loans. The attempts to save the banks, those who were guilty, those who already had made a killing off the economic rape and plunder of the economy, and were responsible for the economic collapse, which caused so much suffering for the 99%, is perceived an outrage and injustice. No relieve was offered to those suffering from the folly of the greed.

Mitt Romney said, President Obama was wrong to loan money to the big three auto makers, and save over a million jobs for middle class people. Obama was right, the loan saved the auto industry, and the money was quickly repaid to the government and over a million jobs was saved. Mitt Romney also said, we are making a mistake, trying to save peoples homes from foreclosure, let the market correct things, let millions of Americans become homeless.

It is this cold indifference shared by Romney and the Republican Party that presents a problem for both. They are simply on the wrong side of an unpopular issue. Protecting their rich fiends may fill their political coffers but it does little to arouse public sympathy or support.

Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are the warriors for the 1%. The policies of the GOP and rhetoric of Mitt Romney goes directly against the welfare of the American people and the working middle class. The GOP lust for power reminds one of an old Rush lyric. “The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.” What remains to be seen; Will Americans be fooled again?

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.