Tonight will be President Obama’s third State of the Union address. The remarks afterward by Mitch Daniels and Herman Cain will undoubtedly try to cloud all issues and spread false facts.

Think Progress posted an impressive list of facts this morning, some of which outlines accomplishments by Obama. (POLITICS FACTS: The State Of The Union
By Judd Legum on Jan 24, 2012 at 11:10 am). Other items in the post point out the need for a return to more equality and building the middle class. See the article for sources linked. Here’s the list.

• Since the last SOTU, the economy has created 1.9 million private sector jobs. [Source]
• The top 1 percent take home 24 percent of the nation’s income, up from about 9 percent in 1976. [Source]
• Private sector job creation under Obama in 2011 was larger than seven out of the eight years Bush was president. [Source]
• The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of our country’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent. [Source]
• Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance. [Source]
• For every one job opening, there are four people looking for work. [Source]
• Last year, China spent 9 percent of its GDP on infrastructure. The U.S. spent 2.5 percent. [Source]
• 2.65 million seniors saved an average of $569 on prescriptions last year thanks to the Affordable Care Act. [Source]
• “In 2011, the United States killed Al Qaeda’s most effective propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki; its operating chief, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman; and of course its founder, chief executive and spiritual leader, Osama bin Laden.” [Source]
• Union membership is at a 70-year low. [Source]
• Unemployment benefits have lifted 3.2 million people out of poverty. [Source]
• The United States used to have the world’s largest percentage of college graduates. We’re now #14. [Source]
• One quarter of all contributions to federal campaigns come from 0.01 percent of Americans. [Source]
• 47.8 percent of households that receive food stamps are working, because having a job is not enough to keep them out of poverty. [Source]
• In the last three years, 30 major corporations spent more on lobbying than they paid in taxes. [Source]
• 50 percent of U.S. workers make less than $26,364 per year. [Source]
• More than one in 70 homes faced foreclosure last year. [Source]
• Since 1985, the federal tax rate for the 400 wealthiest Americans dropped from 29 percent to 18 percent. [Source]

Any way you shake it, this country is struggling to gain back not only its economic footing, but its integrity as a nation. From what I have heard and seen of the Repub candidates so far, they are not promising to correct anything. Only continue the failed policies of the Bush Administration to a degree not only Bush could imagine. All backed by Corporate Money.

Obama is talking about returning this country back to its people, rather than delivering it wholesale to corporations. In other words, preserving what’s left of our democracy for everyone rather than become a corporatocracy where only the rich participate. Sometimes known as fascism.

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Note to Orrin Hatch RE: Planned Parenthood

The Repulbican view of this issue really burns me. I’m on Senator Scratch’s email list as a former Utah, so I can keep up with the rat bastard from Pennsylvania. (He couldn’t get elected there so he sought a consistuency stupid to vote for him – Utah!)

Anyway, he was crowing about his vote to defund Planned Parenthood because no organization that supports abortions should get any taxpayer money. This is a man who sponsors a Day for Women, or used to. Damned hypocrite.

Here’s the response I sent back through his website. Bear in mind I WAS PISSED. And yes I really sent it. I wonder if it does any good, but at least I’m calling it the way I see it and putting it out there for him to see too.

Dear Senator Hatch – Your vote to defund Planned Parenthood is destructive and ill-informed. Only 3% of their services go to abortions and is not federally funded by law. The other 97% is for health services poor women can’t afford elsewhere. Would you have them suffer more health risks because you defunded them? Utah has lots of needy women who need Planned Parenthood for survival, and policies like this, if implemented, would only create more suffering, more poverty, more untreated cancer, more unplanned and unwanted children. Is that desirable? Is that Christian? No, but it seems to be Republican. Hypocrites.

Your party acts like it hates its own constituency for all the wrong reasons. It’s not about fixing the deficit – it’s about hurting people who might disagree with your agenda. It is a class war. That’s un-American. Shame on you and your ilk. I hope the Republican Party goes down in stinking flames in 2012.

Linda Allen
A former Utahn

Budget Cuts Mean More Misery. Why? Life is Cheap.

The New York Times ran an article today about Obama catpitulating to the demands of the depression makers. It made me sick.

I’ve been looking for other voices in this time of accerating chaos. They are out there: Jean Houston, a visionary and activist in Social Awareness, Barbara Max Hubbard, an expert in the human evolutionary process in these times and some others I’ll talk about in another post. There is a way out of the current shit, but it will not come from the system that has made itself so radically sick. Einstein said you can’t solve a problem using the same processes and ideas that created the problem. That’s where we are today. We as a country and culture are very ill, and we have to fire the doctors and find our own solutions, and we have to start talking about it a lot more.

This is the comment I posted as Lallen56 to the article “Obama Budget Pivots From Stimulus to Deficit Cuts.”

The cuts to education and every program that supports actual people shows me that the Republicans are pushing to make the American worker extinct. If fewer people are educated they can justify outsourcing more jobs to countries the demand less in wages but still support education. Cheap engineers, cheap attorneys, cheap computer scientists, cheap everyone.

Our lives are cheap to them and they are the ultimate Grinches. It’s a race to the bottom. I am disgusted that Obama has capitulated to this degree. My only hope now is that the Republicans so overstep their bounds that their cruel, domination agenda becomes obvious to even the most staunch TPer’s. Neither party seems up to the challenges. Maybe the solution will come from the trenches.

There are movements afoot that emphasize evolutionary possibilities. More people should know that this doomed scenario is not the only one. (See Jean Houston, Barbara Max Hubbard and others like them.)

We can do better. We can form a culture that supports those who participate, but it will mean a complete overhaul of our economic and political systems. It can be done with determination and activism toward systems that build caring communities rather than punitive surfdoms dominated and ruled by corporate overseers and cruel warmongers.

It’s time for us to grow up and be civilized. It can be done. Wake up.

Those Wacky Republicans.

Gail Collins’ column “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” about some of the crazy bills Republicans are floating was a good read. My comment was #50 and by 7:00 this evening had 44 recommendation checks from fellow readers.

This is based on what I wrote this morning, but is a little more expanded.

Based on their own actions, I am convinced that the Republican party’s mission is to destroy their own country and give it to their corporate masters. Here’s a thumbnail on how they intend to get us there:

Keep unemployment high. This is important because it provides a large, desperate, and submissive body of peons willing to be employed at rock bottom rates, with no benefits, and who knows what kind of conditions. If more people become employed, give another break to the wealthy and corporations and encourage more outsourcing.

Kill education, period. Anyone who is educated might acquire critical thinking skills, allowing them to recognize when propaganda is being substituted for facts and real news. This would ultimately translate into more people not voting Republican. Can’t have a permanent majority that way, now can we.

Kill any inkling of a social network. Keeps the population desperate and willing to do any work at any wage. This is not kicking people when they are down; it is giving them the opportunity to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Never mind that the bootstrap factory was shut down and rebuilt in China.

As for family planning, drastically reduce birth control options so that childbirth rates remain high and gets higher. This guarantees that future corporate needs for more desperate employees will be filled. It’s economic. We’re just numbers.

I have heard it said that this is the new normal. I say it’s time to fight back from the ground up. If we as a nation will have to face unemployment and reduced resources, then adjustments need to be made. Perhaps we need to be the next Egypt, but hopefully without the violence.

What specifically do we do about it? If this really is the new normal, start talking about reforms like reducing the birth rate and increasing real education.

If access to resources and employment are reduced, then it makes sense that over time, the population should be reduced to mitigate the shortages. Otherwise we only further entrench poverty and shortages.

This means providing universal access to sex education and affordable, effective family planning. Birth control should be as close to free as possible and widely available, even in schools. Abortion must remain legal. Children are considered a blessing, but some of that motherhood and apple pie attitude is just propaganda. Children are also the leading cause of poverty for unwed teen mothers, and are expensive, time consuming, and in many cases, a burden. Not something the spinmeisters want people talking about. Babies are sometimes not a blessing but a burden: blasphemous but true. Not to mention the sometimes horrifying effects on the children themselves of being unwanted. It’s mostly avoidable.

Education reform is sorely neglected in this country. The stats on our students’ standing compared to other advanced nations is appalling. Reform is necessary, but I’m not talking about the reform touted by the hyper-religious, history-revising boards. We need real factual, meaningful, eager-to-go- to-school-every-day reformed education for everyone. That leaves Texas and other fundamentalist leaning states like it, out.

We as a people also must start talking in very personal terms about the effects of the conservative lunacy – more poverty, outsourced jobs, failure of local government due to fiscal starvation, etc. Real human misery as a direct result of conservative policy. (That puts the Texas group back in).

Start demanding positive results for PEOPLE not institutions. Make it very, very personal. Maybe the lunkheads who vote for the lunkheads will start to see the patterns and someday get it – they are voting for their own demise. Vote for partisan lunkheads, you get partisan stupid legislation and devastatingly personal results.

Read George Lakoff. (“Don’t Think of an Elephant” and “Moral Politics.” He has a handle on how to talk about these things in personal, meaty terms, and how far right organizations, including Republican strategists, have deceived, and continue to deceive, the electorate with sleazy, manipulative language.

Just a few thoughts.

On a more personal note to Ms. Collins – You do darn fine work. Don’t stop.

RE: Balanced Budget Amendment to Constitution – A Nation Killing Bill

I received an email from Senator Hatch (R-UT) about his submission of a Constitution Amendment requiring a balanced budget. I found it interesting that his examples of states that don’t require balanced budgets were Vermont, Switzerland, and Germany, all of which are in better shape than the rest of the country.

This is my email response to both Senators Hatch and Cornyn. Yes, I really sent it. If you agree and want to send a copy of it to your senator or to either of these senators, feel free.

Dear Senators:

I have received your political memo of January 29, 2001 and have a response.

I cannot in any way support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution until common sense remedies that will work and are supported by a majority of Americans are instituted first.

The Republicans have such a deplorable record when it comes to debt and spending. I consider it hypocritical in the extreme that you and your party are pushing this as a Constitutional amendment.

The only time that Republicans care about the deficit is when the Democrats are in office, usually dealing with the deficits created by the previous Republican administrations. You were not concerned about Reagan or Bush II exponentially increasing the debt, but now you are. The pattern holds.

Democrats historically reduce the debt; Republicans historically increase it. Until that historical fact changes, your action is political grandstanding with no substance. We are beginning to recover, but this Amendment would throw out economy into rapid reverse again.

The debt would resolve itself if more people had money to put back into the economy. Many suggestions for easing the debt have been made and the ideas that would most effectively get the country going again have been ignored by Republicans. Some of these are:

1. Put people back to work and make it harder for corporations to continue outsourcing to China. People don’t care about the debt. They just want their jobs back.

“Jobs” is the Number 1 item of the list of priorities for American citizens and the debt is low on the list. Listen to the people. If more jobs are available there will be more money to spend and the economy will improve. Most of those on unemployment right now are there because of American Corporate outsourcing. With so many unemployed thanks to outsourcing, and with reductions in any aid to those left without jobs, it’s no wonder our economy is still struggling.

Remove subsidies or benefits to job killing corporations that outsource, or fine them, until they bring their business and jobs back home. Many of these corporations received federal funds, only to use them to build factories abroad. The money has benefited the CEOs and the foreign workers, not American citizens. They need incentives to keep business here, even if they are negative incentives. The money regained from this strategy could easily be used to create government jobs. You know, Government jobs with benefits. You have one.

Cutting government payrolls would be a huge mistake because those employed individuals support their families and spend money in local economies. They help keep us going. Ending those jobs further imperils our local and national economies.

The taxes we pay for government services are well worth what we receive. Outsourcing those jobs will be more costly and usually result in us having to pay more for the services. We pay less in taxes than we would for the privatized service. Government services are a bargain.

2. Rescind the Bush tax theft by the wealthy and big corporations. Those Santa Clause tax gifts were, and are, a large part of the reason the country descended from a Clinton budget surplus into the Bush debt. Put the top tax brackets back up. The wealthy and big corporations will stay wealthy. Much of their income is not earned but comes from investment.

In addition, the wealthy use many more public resources than the average American. More employees, police and fire protection, schools, roads, infrastructure, and many more –all to build and keep their wealth. If you bought all of what they use or own from a store, it would cost a fortune. It the tax system is it is as if the wealthy and corporations get to shop with no limit while they stiff the cashier and walk away with their loaded shopping carts.

It’s the same as shoplifting. It leaves the middle class or the working poor to pay their extravagant bill. It’s theft. The top 1% of earners and the corporations are stealing from the rest of us. This tax practice starves the system. It is breaking us. In some cases, it’s killing us.

I recently read that Paul Ryan’s plan for America includes a 5% increase in taxes on the poor and middle class and a decrease in the rate on the wealthiest 0.1% of taxpayers by 15%. If this is true, I’m afraid we will not survive.

How is this conscionable? The poor and middle class don’t want a handout, we just want to survive in a level playing field. Soon we won’t even be able to see the field.

3. Regulate the financial industry to restore balance and strengthen oversight. The recent findings of the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission show that the financial meltdown could have been prevented with better regulation and oversight. The deregulation that took place in the Clinton and Bush administrations led directly to the crisis. As we have so graphically seen in the last two years, regulations are essential to preventing the cheaters from winning. Bring back the Glass-Steagall Act and restore the safeguards that existed prior to Clinton’s presidency.

Deregulating essentially put the greedy, rabid foxes in charge of the henhouse. They succeeded in not only raiding it, but blaming the resulting misery on those it ravaged. Citizens were punished twice and the bandits not only got away with it not only Scott-free, they were, and are, rewarded for it.

A majority of Americans want more regulation of financial institutions to prevent future meltdowns. We also want the lawbreakers to go to jail for massive corruption, theft, destruction to American economy and for causing much human suffering.

4. End the wars as soon as possible and bring down military expenses. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were started based on misinformation or outright lies and continue to massively drain our resources. The cost of the wars was never included in any planning during the Bush years – this was deceitful and distorted the amount of debt we incurred.

The wars were not paid for by increased tax revenues as had been done in previous generations. Bush II decreased taxes in the face of increased costs and the debt exploded.

Much of the reason the debt looks bigger now is because President Obama includes the war cost in the budget rather than ignoring it or trying to cover it up. Now we can truly see the effect of war on our economy. End the wars and bring the troops home.

5. Begin hiring people to rebuild the infrastructure – create more jobs. A government program such as the WPA during FDR’s time, a successful program in many ways, would employ people and improve conditions. The private sector can’t create jobs fast enough to keep up with the corporate outsourcing. More government jobs would a good first step.

This could even be done by ending the wars, bringing the troops home, and having them work here on infrastructure projects.

6. Do not repeal the Affordable Health Care Plan of President Obama. It’s a good first step toward solving many of the big problems in medical care we have. Insurance companies do not have anyone’s best interest at heart, only their profit margins. Obama’s plan is not a job killer. Your repeal of the act would kill more jobs that Obama’s plan, which would actually create jobs. You are not fooling us with the phony title of your bill.

7. Include a public option in the Affordable Health Care Plan, or extend Medicare to a larger segment of the population. This alone would save billions in health care. This option was supported by a majority of Americans when it was first suggested. Many people are opposed the current health care bill because this provision was eliminated, not because they oppose health care reform.

We are learning from the U.K. that austerity measures do not work to bring back a struggling economy. David Blanchflower said recently: “There is little historical precedent in the real world . . . to suggest that fiscal austerity works”.

I am not wealthy; therefore you no longer speak for me. You do not champion for people anymore. You champion extreme conservative ideology, corporate financing and big money. You are one of the conservative Republicans who speak for the wealthy, the corporations, and the big banks.

This country is composed of people. Corporations are cold-blooded entities that seem to view people as commodities to be exploited until empty and then the human shells discarded. We want our government by, for, and of THE PEOPLE back.

In my opinion, the Founding Fathers would be sick to see what is happening to this country today. Not because of the debt, but because of the near complete disenfranchisement of the people, mostly coming from the Republican side of the aisle. Democrats at least begin with the premise that government can help citizens rather than hurt them.

America is in trouble because for the past 30 years it has adhered in varying degrees to the Reagan policies and politics of scorning (or outright hating) government and turning that scorn into disdain for the poor and middle class. America won’t be great again until it rejects the onslaught of corporate overreaching and manipulation.

It won’t be great again until each politician is judged not by a bottom line or balance sheet, but by how many people got jobs, bought a house, paid fair taxes, enjoyed good food, received excellent education, and improved their lives under his or her term.

I’m afraid it might be a long time coming. I’m tired of the games. I’m sick of the empty political rhetoric about the Founding Fathers and American exceptionalism by people who have forgotten or never understood social or historical facts. I’m revolted by the lies and the manipulation and cruelty of the political right wing.

I no longer believe in you as a conservative Republican or what you stand for, but I believe in the goodness and the strong spirit of the American people. Unfortunately I also see tremendous forces pushing us down in a race to the bottom. I’m sorry to say I think you are one of them.

Sincerely,

Lynn Allen

Kick ’em while they’re down! NOT

I commented today in response to an editorial in today’s NY Times – Poverty and Recovery, as follows, (tweaked slightly):

Jack #11 in Portland, I find your “kick ‘em while they’re down” rhetoric disturbing. Unfortunately too many feel the same and justify with a harsh and unpatriotic logic. Very few of the poor are lazy. Many had great jobs until those jobs were outsourced to China. Many more had homes until the bank and finance industry broke the system and induced a foreclosure crisis. Much of the hardship is courtesy of the wealthy from whom you would require nothing.

Mega-Rich people and corporations do not get their wealth in isolation. They need, above all, employees to produce goods and services. Add to that electricity to power facilities, roads to transport goods, communication services, schools, public services like police and fire departments, water, schools, and on and on, to acquire such wealth.

Asking nothing of them is like asking the janitors and landscapers to pay entirely for the top dogs at the Country Club to use the golf course. Wealth requires resources. Taking all the resources and paying nothing is theft.

Is it honest to steal from the very people who made them rich? Better yet, couldn’t it be argued that it is unpatriotic to so undermine the population of your own country? This country was not founded on selfishness or ruthlessness to its own citizens. It was founded on the principle that all people deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was founded on the principle of cooperation and community, and it saddens me to think that this ideal is now ridiculed.

It benefits everyone to have at least a minimum level of living. Having more people in survival mode or below bodes ill for any country aspiring to be, or remain, a world leader.

The comment I referred to follows:
J***
Portland
January 19th, 2011
12:35 am
Why waste our time and yours with editorials like this? The people you are writing about are chumps, losers. Those who count appear on page 1 under the headline “Study Points to Windfall for Goldman Partners”. They deserve an editorial celebrating their success, their riches. Instead you liberal types will want them to pay some outrageous tax rate. If they have any sense the Republicans will push through legislation exempting incomes above a certain amount from any taxes at all. That provides an incentive to make a decent income. So what if the lazy are poor….if they wait outside the big banks and brokerages houses long enough certainly someone will come down and give them a slice of cake.

(ADDED NOTE: Jack #11 and I (lallen56 comment #24) ended up on the same page of reader’s recommendations. He has 155 recommends and I have 135 recommends as of 9:00 p.m. Jan 19. Most of the other comments favored helping. Interesting juxtapositioning, doncha think?)

The editorial outlines just how important the stimulus was to many people on the brink, or in poverty in 2009. Excerpts from the article include:

Poverty and Recovery
Congress should consider that a safety net, fortified by stimulus, saved millions of Americans from poverty before it commits to any more slashing and burning.

“What analysts have found is that the antipoverty effect of government intervention in 2009 was profound. Calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning research group, show that specific stimulus provisions — including expanded federal jobless benefits, new and improved tax credits for workers and bolstered food stamps — kept 4.5 million people out of poverty in 2009. Only Social Security and the earned income credit did more to fight poverty.”

With 14.5 million people still out of work, and more than 6 million of them jobless for more than six months, reducing federal help now will almost ensure more poverty later. That would impose an even higher cost on the economy and budget because ever poorer households cannot spend and consume.

We know it goes against the prevailing rhetoric to argue that more and better government policies are still needed to repair the economy. It is also unpopular to argue that programs that have succeeded for decades in reducing poverty, like Social Security, need to be preserved even as they are retooled for the 21st century. To do otherwise is to deny the evidence.”