Tag Archives: class warfare

Congress Cashes In While Country Crashes

4 Oct

dimeI need to thank my friend Sarah B. for some of the research done here. If you are not outraged with the GOP/Tea Party, you are not paying attention. There is a great economic and emotional cost to this government shutdown–the brunt of the cost is being paid by the workers, the middle class, and lower classes of the country.  While millions of Americans in the United States are having to go without a salary and resources, John Boehner , Ted Cruz, and all the others drinking the Kool Aid are GETTING PAID while they devastate the country.  It is difficult to believe there is not a sad and disgusting thread of racism as part of what is motivating the Teahadists.

Let us look specifically at just some of the direct costs of this horrific behavior:

Furloughed Employees:

  • Over 800,000 Federal employees have been furloughed and will not be paid.

Head Start:

  • Up to 19,000 children are unable to attend head start programs, depriving them of early childhood educational opportunities and leaving their parents scrambling for childcare.

Cancer Patients Turned Away:

  • Cancer patients trying to enroll in clinical trials at NIH have been turned away until the shutdown ends.

No Flu Outbreak Monitoring:

  • Monitoring of Flu outbreaks nationwide has been crippled, with only cursory examinations and no “in-depth” investigations of potential outbreaks.

Assistance for low-income families comes to a halt:

  • The WIC program, which provides food assistance to families with children, has shut down. Some states are not accepting new applicants, and other states are running on reserves which will last mere days.

Colorado Springs:

  • Over 18% of the workforce in Colorado Springs, CO (55,000 workers) are on furlough and won’t be paid.

Highway Investigations:

  • Incidents like the deadly bus crash in Tennessee cannot be investigated because the staff at the National Traffic Safety Board are furloughed.

As of today, the cost of the Shutdown is now well over 1 Billion Dollars and all because a bunch of wealthy congressmen (who have full health care and are still collecting a salary) want to get rid of the much-needed Affordable Care Act, which they are calling Obamacare.

Here is where the GOP/Teahadists need to catch a clue and pay attention.  The Affordable Care Act is a huge success in just four days.  Millions of people are enrolling and for many this is the first time they have had health insurance in years. Enrollment is so vigorous that it is crashing web servers.  Now tell me again why the Affordable Care Act is a bad thing?

As programs continue to shut down when their existing funding ceases, the crazed militants in the House speak about the situation out of both sides of their Tea-holes. While many Republican members of the House laugh and call the situation “fun” and “the best part of my job,” others bemoan aspects of the shutdown that inconvenience them. (Yes, Rep. Neugebauer (R, TX), who publicly shouted down a park ranger who wouldn’t let him into a closed memorial, we’re talking to you.)

While it is great to see the President and the Democrats united in standing up to this bullying, the impact on the country is horrific. How long will the so-called “moderate” and “rational” Republicans be cowed by the fringes of their party? Until enough members of the House agree to do their jobs, the most vulnerable citizens of our country will continue to suffer.  Sadly, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell (two Madhatters) were caught on mic with their despicable behavior.  Click here to see them.

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Number 1 Bigot of the Year 2012: National Rifle Association

31 Dec
Number 1 Bigot of 2012

Number 1 Bigot of 2012

This year’s nominations for Bigot of the Year were pretty remarkable, as you have no doubt noticed over the past few days. Thanks again go to all the TSM readers who took the time to recommend their choices for awful behavior and social injustice. It was a bit of a surprise with all those great nominations to have someone come out of nowhere and grab the top spot. With the insane rantings of its VP Wayne LaPierre and its manic worship at the altar of firearms in the wake of Sandy Hook, however, the NRA managed to do just that.

The shooting tragedy in Newtown was among the worst in U.S. history. Children of 6 and 7 were being buried as LaPierre broke the NRA silence and made his now infamous speech.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

How about not letting the “bad guy” have a gun whose only purpose is to destroy human flesh? How about really enforcing the lamentably weak gun laws we already have? How about not using racism and class warfare to scare people into thinking they need to carry a gun wherever they go?

The NRA’s general behavior as one of the largest and most feared lobbying organizations was bad enough. Over the past year or so, however, they’ve upped the ante significantly. Apparently fearing action in the courts that might result in support for reasonable gun laws, the NRA has begun meddling in judicial appointments. Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are the first two ever “rated” by the organization, clearly targeting votes in their favor as being anti-gun, something many Senators fear. NRA operatives are also working hard to scuttle an arms trade treaty in the U.N.

They’ve also launched a sister organization, the American Silencer Association, to push sales of the one legal firearm enhancement that might have made Adam Lanza’s attack more devastating. The sales pitch? Silencers make guns safer for children’s hearing. Really.

Congratulations, NRA leaders. You’ve demonstrated such lack of compassion and judgment that LaPierre was billed on the New York Daily News as the “Craziest Man On Earth.” Sadly, far too many in power listen to the kind of crazy his money buys.

Dishonorable mention goes to the NRA’s partners in tastelessness. Mike Huckabee already came in at #5 for the year, partly on the strength of his screed about putting “God back in schools” to avoid another Sandy Hook. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer gets a nod for similar words, delivered in his own inimitable crazed style. Last but by no means least, the National Review for its misogynistic editorial that just having more men in schools would butch them up enough to stop potential killers. Let’s try to learn from the real lessons of Sandy Hook, and not from these ranters and opportunists.  Now is the time to look at gun control, racial profiling, and angry white men.

Boycott Black Friday

21 Nov

In the wake of an impressively progressive election season, let’s carry the concept of human rights into the massive holiday shopping season. The constant advertising and promotion for us to shop on Black Friday is enough to make me spit up! Making all those deals happen involves horrific and abusive employment practices.

Workers are being exploited like never before.  Walmarts around the country will be open 24 hours and are holding holiday sales on Thanksgiving itself for the first time.  The situation is so bad that Walmart employees are mounting unprecedented protests and the retail giant is pulling out every dirty trick to try to stop them.  Have you no decency Walmart?

Please consider some simple facts before you surge into the shopping madness this weekend.

  • For you to shop at 2 o’clock, someone has to be there at 1:00 to set up the store; or stay after closing the night before so all the special advertising material isn’t shown before the sale begins.
  • The stores and malls that offer shockingly “great” deals for earlybirds have to be staffed by people, people who should have lives of their own.
  • Most of those retail staff are underpaid; many try to support families on wages below poverty without benefits.
  • Before you shout “But they’ll earn great commissions!” please realize that most retailers drastically reduce commission levels (if they offer them at all) starting on the day after Thanksgiving because it’s “too easy” to earn the extra money being run off your feet by extra hoards of shoppers fighting over the last Tickle Me Bieber–I think I just made myself spit up a little with that one.
  • Many of those workers rely on public transportation, which doesn’t operate during the hours it takes to get to the workplace to staff these special sales. So even if they get commissions or overtime (or just extra work hours), those minimal wages get eaten up with cab fare or parking fees paid while they deprive the rest of the family of the one vehicle they own.
  • You don’t need a bargain so badly that it’s worth going to the store at 4a.m., and an extra 5% off the latest Wii isn’t worth your sleep or your time with your family. Really.

So please join me in saying “NO” to abusive sales practices. If you have any other local choices, stay away from Walmart. While you’re at it, avoid JCPenney, which promised to skip Black Friday back in February but has reneged on that oath.

Times are hard, so shop smart and save where you can. But please remember the thousands of people it takes to get that bargain ready for you, and treat them with human kindness this holiday season.

Bigot of the Week Award: August 3, House Democrats Opposing Tax Fairness

3 Aug

Bigot of the Week

This week 19 House Democrats put self-interest ahead of leadership and bailed on a key piece of legislation. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exceeded all expectations and crafted a brilliant deal that allowed a great tax cut compromise to pass the Senate. The bill extended the cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year, protecting the middle class during the fragile economic recovery. By ending the cuts for those with higher incomes, it also introduced greater fairness into the tax system–truly a broken clock moment for our Harry Reid.

The bill was unlikely to pass in the House, of course, but it sent a strong message. The Republicans in the House shot it down on Wednesday — big shock. Sadly, 19 Democrats voted against the bill, joining the Republican chorus of class warfare. The majority of the 19 Representatives who crossed the aisle were so-called Blue Dog Democrats (or what I like to call Tea Bag Democrats), a loose caucus of “moderate and conservative” Democrats. Many are also in tight re-election contests or in badly gerrymandered new districts. These are not sufficient excuses.

It is a given that most Republicans will not vote for the Democrat. It is also true that the Senate approach to the tax cuts is very popular (polling at or above 60%), especially with independent voters and in swing states. What these 19 cowards have done is sold out the middle class and the most vulnerable for a callous political calculation. Why should Democratic voters in their districts care about showing up at the polls if they are offered a choice between two people who vote against them? Why should independent voters prefer a Democrat if that person voted against their preferences? Shame on you, Representatives! Bad dogs!

Personally, I am sad to see Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon’s 5th District on this list and grateful that the recent redistricting moved me into Rep. Blumenauer’s district. Oregonians are hurting, Rep. Schrader; why did you vote against 98% of them?

Mitt Romney: Around the World in 80 Gaffes

2 Aug

One of the nicer things said about this trip…

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wrapped up his three-nation overseas tour, demonstrating his usual diplomacy, tact, planning, and magical power to reinvent reality with every third sentence. After a disastrous visit to England and a speech in Israel that was elitist, anti-Semitic and racist all at once, Romney managed to avoid any major missteps during his brief stay in Poland. Well, except for the trip’s press secretary, Rick Gorka, telling a reporter “Kiss my ass — this is a holy site.” Now that’s a sentence you don’t hear every day! The most likely explanation for Romney himself not adding to #romneyshambles in Poland is that he is completely devoid of humor, thus being unable to tell any Polish jokes…

How did the Romney campaign respond to the rampant criticism of the trip? With an etch-a-sketch, a pointing finger, and what can only be called Bain logic of course! When asked about his famous line comparing Israel with Palestine — “culture makes all the difference” — good ol’ Mitt had this to say:

[I] did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy. That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that. I certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign.

Oh but you did, Mitt, you did. Just like your pro-choice, pro-gay, and pro-healthcare stands of yore, it’s a matter of record. Even your robotic arms can’t shake the world hard enough to make the facts disappear.  So of course he resorts to a new tactic: the problem lies not in our Mitt, but in our press.

I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They’ll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.

Um, Mitt, if you’re going to use “fourth estate” just use it. Don’t dither. And by the way, you haven’t addressed one single item on that list in your campaign either. You’ve nuked your primary opponents and tried to make people focus on the President, boldly ignoring the Republican administration whose mistakes he’s trying to fix and the Republicans in Congress who have spent “these last four years” obstructing progress for political gain. It’s the job of the press to tell us what a Presidential candidate is up to, just like it’s your job to convince America that you’re viable. So far, only one of you is doing your job.

But the trip was a success! So says Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, calling the least successful trip across Europe since Napoleon visited Russia “a great success, generally.” Wow! Now those are some inspiring words. Stevens also noted that Romney had answered “a lot of questions.” Well, to be fair, three questions outside 10 Downing Street is more than he’s answered clearly about his taxes or his time at Bain, but objectively it isn’t “a lot.”

Sadly, even the Republicans can’t spin gold out of this heap of bull-Mitt. Trying to put a brave face on it, party strategists and political consultants have come up with things like:

  • The question always is if you had to do all over again and get the exact same results, would you do it again? Well, in this case, no. But it’s not that big of a deal.
  • It comes under the heading “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • What they didn’t anticipate was how hot the media glare was going to be. They wanted to go over there and not make any news and they ended up making some.

Oh, poor Mitt! With friends like these, who needs an opposing political party. Of course the Democrats have assembled this handy clip reel so Mitt can remember his lovely trip. The more time Romney spends in front of the cameras, the clearer it becomes why the RNC doesn’t want W at the convention. The two are geting pretty hard to tell apart.

The Mitt-ish Are Coming! or The London Tea Party

28 Jul

Failure does not compute!

Poor Romneybot 2012! He can’t seem to calibrate his circuits for the correct response to anything these days. After weeks of his Mendacity and Obfuscation Routines failing to defuse his tax situation, he decided it was time to flee the country. His Safety and Secrecy Protocol directed him to either Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, but his Invasive Media Sensor indicated that this would only inflame the situation he was trying to avoid. Fortunately his Best Olympics Ever 2o00 memory implant sensed an upcoming games and he decided to journey to London (as the 1% are able to travel like this). Perhaps the more proper English spoken there would disguise his faulty language generator! He strapped Ann onto the top of a private jet and away they went. Sadly, his Social Miscue Engine kicked in, and the trip has been a disaster.

How big a disaster? On his second day a new hash tag showed up on Twitter: #romneyshambles. After the media released a clip of Mitt saying London didn’t seem ready for the Olympics, Mayor Boris Johnson laid into him in front of a crowd of 60,000. He bumbled a secret meeting with British Intelligence, refered to the dwelling at 10 Downing St. as a “backside” and forgot the name of a key politician when speaking to him on camera. Every bit the aloof, prevaricating, hypocritical, ugly American he’s shown since starting his campaign, he’s cast deep doubts on his ability to handle foreign relations even with one of our staunchest allies.

The conservative British tabloid The Daily Mail, never a big supporter of the U.S. at the best of times, has had a #romneyshambles tweet-fest with the visit. A few especially lovely examples include:

  • Diplomacy Romney style: casts doubt on Britain’s Olympic preparations; says last thing he wants is for US to be like Europe. Way to go Mitt!
  • Do we have a new Dubya on our hands?
  • Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. ‘Worse than Sarah Palin.’ ‘Total car crash’. Two of the kinder verdicts.
  • Another verdict from one Romney meeting: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity.’

I guess this is what you get when your top foreign policy advisors are Dick Cheney and John Bolton.

Of course the Mitt-droid was able to activate his Faux News Defense Broadcast. The GOP Network has tried to stir up a bizarre meme that the Brits should be nicer to Romney because…he might be President someday. REALLY? Maybe ol’ Mitt ought to try to be Presidential overseas if he wants that wish to come true. In Romney’s defense, his Time Perception Meter has been off for years; he can’t remember when he left Bain Capital, when he started the Olympics, or when to file his taxes. Maybe he thought this was 1812 and he was on enemy soil.

Whatever the case, Romney is once again faring poorly when compared to President Obama. Comparing the London debacle with then-candidate Obama’s overseas trip in 2008, The National Journal came up with this headline: Romney Abroad – Candidate Obama Did It Better In 2008. Ouch. That has to hurt Mitt’s one feeling. He should cheer up, though; he’ll be leaving Britain soon, and off to Israel and Poland. What could go wrong there?

Louisiana: A Model for Gutting Public Schools

3 Jul

Education should be reserved for those who can afford it.

Today it is an honor and pleasure for me to introduce a new TSM contributor.  Never Contrary was gracious enough to provide this fantastic post.  Never Contrary has an amazing voice for social justice and understands the intersections of oppression and why we must change systems.  There are many times when I am in awe of Never Contrary’s voice and ability to speak truth to power. In this first article by Never Contrary, the Voucher system is exposed as the tool to gut public schools and create a classist society where only the wealthy may benefit from an education. For me this article addresses so many different issues all at once: class, race, gender, and–because Never Contrary is part of the LGBT community–multiple identities experiencing oppression.

Louisiana is consistently in the bottom three states in education every year. It is quite apparent that change is needed. Change has come.

I will start at the beginning. Three years ago I walked into my principal’s office. I was given a login to a program that included every kid I had taught in the past two years and their grades in my courses and state tests. I asked what this was for and was told it was for an upcoming law that would track student performance to their teachers. I found it odd that the state had not only already paid for the computer program to be built but was already using it before the laws had even begun discussions in the legislature. Flash forward three years. The news laws are finally being discussed. I knew that of course they would pass, as they had already been paid for. The whole debate was simply a show.

What exactly passed?

A voucher system. This will allow students in failing schools to have access to a scholarship to attend any private school of their choosing. Including the school in North Louisiana that believes that the proof that evolution is false is the Loch Ness monster.  I wish I was making this up.

Each student that leaves a public school takes their money with them. In October, the private school receives the money from the state. At that point the school can kick the student out for behavior, or grades, or frankly anything, and the student goes back to public school. The private schools keep the money, of course.  There will be no accountability for the private schools in any way about what they are doing with the students while their attend their schools.

Students that stay in public schools are now being tracked. It is being called “value added.” Teachers are given a score every year. Half of that score is your evaluation from your administrator. Because those reviews with your boss are always fair and free of the politics of the work place, of course. The other half comes from a score based on your students’ state scores that year, their attendance, their socio-economic background, their scores the previous year, etc. These scores will then be tied into teacher’s pay. It has yet to be decided exactly how.

The tenure program has also been axed. In order to receive tenure, a teacher must perform in the top 5% of their district for five out of six consecutive years. If a teacher has two years of unacceptable scores they will be terminated regardless of past performance.

Teachers can go through a rigorous process to become national board certified. It is very challenging to pass. Only the best teachers are able to. It used to come with a $5,000 pay raise, as motivation for teachers to improve their craft. The governor also took this away. Why reward the excellent teachers, when you can just punish the bad ones? Of course the state superintendent of education in Louisiana makes $349,249.00 a year.

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