Sunday, April 28, 2013

Will Your Grandma Go Hungry Because of the GOP?

The GOP Congress members got out of town this weekend without facing any airport delays.  In just one day before leaving they had enacted a law to put the furloughed airport traffic controllers back to work and thus eradicate the tie-ups at the airports which had resulted from the infamous "sequester".  Why, my gosh, these members had been back from Easter recess for several weeks  -  yes, weeks!  -  and just had to get another recess.  So they unknotted the  airports and went flying off.

Leaving America's seniors to go hungry.  And its children to sleep in the open and the cold.  

Four million meals will be cut from seniors' Meals on Wheels.  Four million times seniors will go without food. Like the recent air traffic jam, that too is a result of the sequester, the across--the-board cut in federal funding forced on the nation in the summer of 2011 as the price for the GOP raising the debt limit so we could pay our EXISTING debts and not force the nation into bankruptcy.  There has been almost two years since summer 2011 for Congress to modify the harshest aspects of sequester  -  just as it has now done for air travel  -  but because of GOP intransigence the sequester remains in its original form, a legislative ax that not only cuts deep but without any discretion being left to federal agencies as to which programs to cut.  It is stupid and childish, a magnificent example of what Sen. Harry Reid  (and I, in earlier blogs) have identified as the "anarchist" face of the GOP:  "Government is despicable," the GOP believes, "so chop it willy-nilly."

In the richest nation in the world, old people will now go hungry.  Maybe it will be 4 million seniors going hungry once, or maybe it will be the same 100,000 seniors missing 40 meals.  That's the equivalent of 100,000 seniors missing a meal a day for about six weeks.  That's two weeks longer than Congress went without a vacation.  Clearly some folks are meant to suffer more than other folks because who can deny it's harder to go hungry than it is to sit for three days a week in the posh offices of Congress on a nice fat salary, with all the warm food you could want, with special interest lobbyists lined up to take you out for a meal.

Shame on Congress!  Shame on them for not fixing the sequester's cut in senior meals.  And its cut in housing subsidies that will now put 140,000 families out on the streets.  Most of these families have children.  They will now be sleeping under bridges or, if they are lucky, in the family car.

Shame on the Democrats for not explaining the suffering the GOP has engineered.

Shame on the media for not making a fuss about this national disgrace.

Oh, I forgot!  The media was too busy this weekend with its annual tribute to gluttony, the D.C. press corps gala dinner.  Too busy swanning around in posh clothes, mingling with movie stars, and EATING LOTS OF EXPENSIVE FOOD.  Why should they care about seniors going hungry or kids sleeping in parks?

But the rest of us had better care.

Call your dad or your grandma and make sure they are eating.  Do you even know if they need Meals on Wheels?  Do you know if their meals are going to be cut?  Do you realize that their generation is too proud to let anyone know if they don't have food?

I don't know what to tell you about helping the now-homeless children.  I just don't know.  They are virtually invisible.  But try to find them.  And help them. Please.

Somehow we will have to take back the House next year and get enough Democratic senate seats to overcome filibustering.  How do we do this, with the rottenness of 2010's redistricting?   Again, I just don't know.  But, as with homeless children, things have to be put right.  We just have to do it.




Monday, April 22, 2013

GOP Dumb and Dumber

The GOP is so dumb that, having admitted its mistakes, it just goes right on making them.  In fact, it leaps at the opportunity to do dumb things all over again.

Let's take the issue of the GOP alienating the Latino community.  The 2012 voting results showed that the GOP had alienated Latinos to the extent that over 70% of them voted for Obama.  Compounding the GOP problem, Latinos are a rapidly growing segment of the population.  The GOP leaders were fairly quick to acknowledge that they had done something wrong and would have to make amends.  "Hey, guys," they said to one another and to the press, "let's quickly do an immigration reform bill so that we can get on the good side of these Latinos."

They then let Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) take the lead on an immigration bill.  After all, he's got a Latino-sounding name and can speak Spanish, so "porque no?"  Having long insulated themselves from Latinos, the Republicans don't know that Rubio, as a Cuban, is of little relevance to the vast majority of actual Latinos, as I've explained in prior blogs (2/13/13 & 2/15/13).  But at least the GOP was trying.

Then they got a chance to revert to their true colors.  With the Boston Marathon bombings, several GOP senators jumped in to use the Boston attack for pure politics, demanding that immigration reform be delayed so that the immigrant status of the alleged Boston culprits could be explored to see how such rotten people got into this country.  (It was ten years ago when they entered the country, and they were CHILDREN!)  In other words, "Run for the hills!  The immigrants are coming!"  This is just fear tactics at its worst.

And Latinos know it.  But apparently the GOP thinks Latinos won't notice.  Indeed, it may be equally insulting to them for the GOP to assume that Latinos are stupid and won't notice the use of fear tactics to deny them legal status.  Just as the GOP assumes the Latinos are too stupid to notice that Marco Rubio is Cuban.  Or too stupid to notice that the GOP doesn't understand the difference between Cubans and Latinos.  In their blatant assumptions, it's the GOP that's stupid and oblivious, folks.

The stupidity of the GOP is enough to make a cat laugh.  But I can't really enjoy the humor of it.  Our Latino brothers and sisters deserve respect.  Perhaps the most disgusting thing I've seen in politics in the last forty years is the skunky GOP attacks on Latinos in the 2012 campaign  All that talk about "a fence", electric or otherwise, made it very clear that when the GOP talks disparagingly of "illegal immigrants" they mean Latinos.   After all, who else enters by our southern border?  The anti-immigrant talk was aimed at them.

There are an estimated 40,000 "illegal immigrants" here from Ireland, but I for one doubt that the GOP knickers are twisted over these people from the Old Sod.  And why not?  Because even the so-called Black Irish have white skin.  We have to face it, friends, the GOP panic about immigration is racist.

But you know that, don't you?

The Latinos sure do.

Only the GOP seems blind to its prejudice.  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The NRA Protects the Boston Bomber

(Although one of the Boston suspects was killed shortly after this blog was posted, the argument of this posting still stands.)

It's bad enough that the NRA has once again stopped a reasonable measure that could help protect us from being killed by guns in the hands of the wrong people.  Yesterday they stopped even a mild measure in the Senate that would have expanded background checks to cover gun shows and some private sales.  In the absence of such a measure, about half of all gun sales are now exempt from background checks.  About 90% of Americans support the expanded background checks.

A majority of U.S. Senators voted for it yesterday.  But under threats from the NRA, four Democratic senators voted against the measure, and 90% of the Republican senators also voted against it.   It thus fell short of the 60 votes required for passage in this day of the filibuster and the control of the country by a minority.

As I said, this was bad enough.  But things are even worse.  Because of the NRA and its control in Washington, the law enforcement agencies trying to track down the Boston Marathon bomber will have a harder time.  About thirty years ago law enforcement wanted to add a certain substance to the explosive powder used in bombs and in gunpowder.  This substance allows the residue of an explosion to be traced and could thus help law enforcement track perpetrators of explosions.

But the NRA stepped in and lobbied against the use of this substance.  And the NRA won.  So did the perpetrators of crimes of violence using bombs as in Boston.

The rest of us lost.

We, the potential victims, are always losing.  So are the little children we are supposed to protect.  What kind of a people are we who can't even protect the little children?  Why did little eight-year-old Mark have to die just because he was watching the finish of the Boston Marathon?  And the twenty little first- graders in Newton?

Why aren't we angry?  What aren't we organized and militant like the NRA?  The NRA never sleeps.  It is ever vigilant about imagined "threats to Second Amendment rights".  By contrast we are sorrowful  after one of these awful tragedies has occurred, but then we go back to sleep.  When are we really going to wake up and move past sorrow to anger and stay there?

We too have rights.  First and foremost are the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".  The right to be alive trumps any Second Amendment right, especially when no real Second Amendment right is being threatened.  The NRA is always screaming that some gun safety measure may actually lead to the government taking  guns away.  It's flat out paranoia, all about the government coming to get them in black helicopters.  I've been hearing about those black helicopters since the early 1970s.  So where the hell are they?

Instead of black helicopters we get the black of funerals for gunshot victims, funerals for even little children.

It's heartbreaking.  But it's also outrageous.  And we should be very, very angry.  We should be angry at ourselves that we don't get organized and do something to counteract the NRA.

Until then, the little children will die and we will be the ones to blame.      




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Obama Outsmarts GOP on Social Security "Cuts"

Some of the Democratic members of Congress are screaming bloody murder against Obama.  His just-released budget proposes capping future Social Security cost-of-living increases.  In principle, these Congressional Democrats are right to scream.  In fact, Obama should have paid them to scream at him because that makes it look like he's really ready to cut a deal.  But don't be fooled.  Though they look to be at loggerheads, both Obama and the Congressional Democrats are doing exactly the right thing.

It's two things actually.  They are wedging the GOP ever tighter into a corner and they are taking away the only issue the entire GOP has to stand on.  It's one of the most clever and yet humane political  achievements ever.

Wait! you are saying.  Humane?  Isn't Obama screwing the seniors by capping future benefit increases?

Nope.  Because it isn't going to happen.  The cap is conditional upon the GOP approving tax increases, which they will not do.  They can't.  They are all paralyzed by fear of being "primaried" next year, i.e. outflanked on the right by their own party and dumped out of office.

Once the GOP is on record as refusing to cut the deficit and debt by enacting any tax increase  -  even when offered a cut to an entitlement program  -   it's clear to everyone that the GOP doesn't really care at all about cutting the deficit and debt.  They care far more about their wealthy selves and their wealthy friends paying low taxes.  That's how it's been all along, just a big act by the GOP.  Unfortunately the media allowed itself to be hornswaggled by the GOP into treating the deficit and debt as a huge and immediate threat to our country.  In reality the debt is an old, old companion.  We've never even paid off our World War II debt.  I grew up hearing my GOP relatives yelling about FDR and the national debt.  The country was supposed to collapse in the 1950s.  Now I'm almost 80, and the country is still here, and so is the debt.

Yes, we should lower it over time.  And, yes, a balanced budget is nice.  But debt for governments and businesses is NOT a sinful and self-dooming thing.  (See my posting about "outhouse economics".)  Just as long as the debt isn't increasing too fast compared with the increase in growth and just as long as expenditures are for good purpose and the interest rates are reasonable.

(Reasonable interest rates?  Wow!  They are practically non-existent!  The federal government is borrowing virtually free money.  Maybe it should borrow tons more at these rates!  Like borrow the free money to retire the debt that carries real interest.)

Once the GOP is shown up as not really caring about the debt and deficits, what do they have to stand on as a party?  Zero.  Zilch.  They've abandoned their traditional hawk/militarism by refusing to do anything to stop the huge cuts just handed to the military.  They can't rally votes any more around the social "hate" issues because the population has moved on.  A majority of even the young Republicans now approve of same-sex marriage.  And a majority of the majority, i.e. women, want the GOP to leave the reproductions issues alone.  The GOP really tried hard with those issues in 2012 and took a bath.  And they've also openly acknowledge that opposing immigration is a loser for them too.

How about the GOP issue of climate change being a hoax?  That won't work for them either because, post the nightmare of Sandy, the majority of Americans tell pollsters that they once again believe that man-made climate change is real.  And the media  -  largely based in NYC  -   is also far more tuned in now to climate change.  They too got their feet wet in Sandy.

Nor is the sluggish economy a winner for the GOP.  Obama's re-election proved that.  And that was held to be their strongest issue.

So what does the GOP have besides the Debt Monster?

Nothing, pal.  Just nothing.

And they are now about to kiss that issue goodbye.  That means Obama can get on with governing.  That's the humane part.  Once the public's knickers are no longer twisted over the spooky debt, we can take care of business.  Like getting an internet system with speed that's competitive with the rest of the world.

As of now, we trail Bulgaria and many other countries in internet speed.  By a lot.

And once we get competitive in internet speed, education, and other good things, we shall have the non-destructive growth that will help lower the debt.  That's the smart and humane way, not by cutting programs for the poor as the GOP has just done with the sequestration.  Obama took some mud in the face from his Democratic Congressional chums this week but it was to very good purpose.

It was to save the people.  It was good in its purpose.  And it was brilliant in its execution.

The community organizer is still on the job.





Thursday, April 4, 2013

Impeach Scalia and Remember Martin Luther King

I am writing this on April 4.  Forty-five years ago today I was sitting in a barber shop with my little boys.  It was just a week until Good Friday. The radio was on in the barber shop, and the news came over the radio that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed.

It was a day of great shock and sorrow.  So were the death days of the other civil rights martyrs, among them Medgar Evers, killed in his own driveway.  The four little girls blown up in their Birmingham church.  James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwermer  -  murdered in the Mississippi night.   Beautiful Viola Liuzzo, who went to the Deep South all the way from Michigan to help in the civil rights struggle and was murdered by the KKK.

There were many more killed in the civil rights struggle.  And many, many more were beaten and injured.  And beyond them there are the centuries of beatings, cruelties, shootings and  -  as recently as my teenage years  - lynchings.  It is a terrible story of oppression.  But it is also a magnificent story of a courageous fight for freedom .

Now comes Scalia.  I will not give him the title of Justice of the Supreme Court.  Because there is nothing of justice about him.  Nor is he supreme in any way.  He is a buffoon and should not be sitting on even the lowest of judicial benches.  No, he's worse than a buffoon.  He is an ignorant and heartless man.  He is a disgrace to the robes he wears.

He should be impeached.

I could go through the litany of his stupid remarks and ignorant misstatements, but I don't want to bother.  Nor need I offer any evidence for his impeachment beyond what he said during the recent argument about the Voting Rights Act.  He used the phrase "racial entitlement" to refer to the protections in the act for the hard-won voting rights of minorities.

There is nothing in the current meaning of "entitlement" that applies to those provisions of the law.  The term "entitlement" has been perverted as of late to refer to Social Security and Medicare, with the right wing's infused connotation that these social support programs are some kind of handout. Which they most certainly are not.  We elders earned them and paid for them from our paychecks.  We elders also earned them by carrying this nation forward for the generations that follow us.  The civil rights movement was among our great achievements as a generation, but we contributed even more.  We paid our dues and then some.  

The provisions of the Voting Rights Act were also paid for.  They were paid for by the blood of King, Evers, Cheney, Goodman, Schwermer, the four little girls, Liuzzo and those many others who died or were beaten bloody so that a people could be free.

Scalia disgraces this country with his snarky ignorance and ill-disguised bigotry.  He spits on the memory of those who died in a struggle that has spread world-wide and is triumphing everywhere.  He is a nothing.

Back in the days of the Warren Court when liberty and equality were getting the support of the Court, the right-wing conservatives proclaimed by bumper sticker "Impeach Earl Warren".

Clearly the time has come for "Impeach Scalia".