Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dennis Kucinich "Downgrades" Standard & Poor's



This is from the web site of Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Mr. Kucinich has the right idea here. Whoever heard of some financial institution attempting to pass judgment on the "rating" of the United States?


Washington, Apr 19 -

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement after Standard & Poor’s (S&P) threatened the fiscal health of the nation by announcing the possibility of a future downgrade of the United States’ credit rating.

“No nation, agency or organization has the authority to dictate terms to the United States Government,” said Kucinich. “S&P and its compatriot Moody’s were a direct cause of the near collapse of the economy of the United States. That industry should be subject to greater oversight, regulation and fundamental overhaul as Washington gets serious about the deficit.”

According to a recent report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, S&P and Moody’s directly contributed to the near collapse of our economy by giving their highest ratings to bonds that they knew were secured by high risk mortgages, in order to earn profitable fees from Wall Street firms, and then abruptly downgrading those bonds, some of which were less than a year old.

“The United States should not be held hostage by Wall Street. We need to get serious about the deficit, which was created by President Bush’s decisions to conduct multiple wars while cutting taxes for the wealthy. We need to end the wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Libya, which will lower our deficit. We need to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which will lower our deficit. We need to create jobs, which will produce more tax revenues and lower our deficit. We need to reform our monetary policy which allows unaccountable banks and agencies to exercise inexcusable amounts of power over our economy," said Kucinich.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Debate Hoax

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the storied NATION magazine, was on "All Things Considered" this afternoon, speaking about the debt ceiling debate in Congress. Her smart commentary revealed how out of touch Congress is. She fears, she said, that Democrats are too much buying into the story line that Americans are worried most about the nation's debt.

She informed listeners that polls show the top suggestion Americans have revealed in polls for reducing the debt is raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires.

She further stated that there has been a terrific misreading of the 2010 election. That election, she declared, was not about the national debt, but about the economy and jobs. The result was a criticism of Democrats for not doing enough on that score. If Ms. vanden Heuvel is right, the Democrats are off on a horrible track for the 2012 election.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Debt Ceiling "Debate" Seen as a Ruse by Republicans

The author of this referenced article (see link below), asserts that the current brouhaha over the debt ceiling is little more than a ruse by certain forces, now represented by the Republican Party to attack and eventually kill Social Security. I agree.

We are dealing with some evil and sick people.

http://www.nationofchange.org/debt-madness-was-always-about-killing-social-security-1311780544

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2010 Voter Turn-out Offers a Surprise to Many

Dr. Michael McDonald of the Department of Public and International Affairs, George Mason University, has compiled some useful statistics from last autumn's election. The data show that turn-out amongst the entire voting-age population was just under 38%. This is a meager rate, to say the least. Thus, all these claims by pundits that "America" voted for this or "America" voted for that are pure hogwash. Clearly, some 62% of the voting-age population didn't vote at all. So, no conclusions whatever about the overall population can be drawn from the vote. It is clear a majority of those who voted were unhappy with the status quo. But even here results were more mixed than advertised, with several Democrats winning key Senate races.

Of course, there was a message of dissatisfaction which millions of Americans felt. But this can be attributed to dissatisfaction with the economy more than any high enthusiasm for right-wing Republicanism. After many months of melodrama brought to us by the Boehner-Cantor-Bachmann show, this has become obvious.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Poster at Daily Kos Tells the True Story

A gentleman called only "Steven D." has written a post at Daily Kos which is useful in keeping alive the idea that Social Security is as much of a social contract as it is an "entitlement." Social Security was not intended to be merely something people were entitled to, but something workers would earn through their work during their life-times.

Republicans were against Social Security in the 1930s and they are against it now -- at least many are. Unable to destroy the program out-right, they seek to dismantle it step by ugly step, using a contrived debt ceiling battle as the starting point.

I am quoting from this blog post at length, but the entire post deserves to be read. There is good history here. There are a few spelling, style, and syntax errors here, but I believe they are not so serious as to compromise the truth of the message.

***********

Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:04 AM PDT
Update: “Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a promise ..." Youngstown, Ohio Townhall

by Steven D

UPDATE: To everyone saying it is an entitlement, this update's for you. First, I agree, it Social Security, et alia, are entitlements. I chose the title of this diary because it was a quote from the article, but also because I liked the use of the word "promise," which makes clear the obligation owed by the government and our elected officials to all of us, and not just our "right" to receive some benefit. Let me explain.

The term "entitlement" has gotten a bad connotation due to Republicans demonizing the word, but I agree we should push back and reclaim it. However, the social safety net is also a compact or covenant by the federal government with Americans. The government takes out taxes for the programs from our paychecks or income (for all you private business owners and "contractors") and to justify the taxation the government "promised" to pay retirement and health benefits when we needed them. The programs have been among the most successful and cost efficient ever administered by the Federal Government (especially when you compare it to the other sacred cow of the budget, our Defense Department., where waste and corruption are rampant and the primary beneficiaries are defense contractors. National Defense is also a "promise" made by the government to Americans, one that sadly it has failed at on numerous occasions (911 being just one of many failures). Yet no one ever argues over the effectiveness or efficiency our Military Industrial Complex, much less the burden it imposes on taxpayers and the national debt.

So, I agree with those who embrace the term "entitlement" but I also want to impress upon people the nature of the promise that was made to the American people by our Government, a promise up to now that they have for the most part kept. That our elected officials our even discussing reducing entitlements, i.e., breaking that longstanding promise and/or covenant with the American people who have held up their end of the bargain, much less actually suggesting reforms that would harm the most vulnerable in our society so billionaires, millionaires and corporations can continue to pay the lowest income taxes since the 1920's is beyond outrageous.

* * *

Last night in Youngstown, Ohio, 200 or so people, seniors and activists and politicians, met at a town-hall event at United Baptist Church. Senator Sherrod Brown appeared and spoke at the event that was sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. The message from the people of Youngstown who attended was clear. Here's the takeaway quote from Carolyn Williams of Youngstown:

“Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a promise to the American people who have paid into the system,” Williams told [the audience]. [...]

“Proposed cuts will force recipients to pay higher insurance premiums and co-pays, and deny us money for essentials like prescription drugs and groceries.”

Williams has reason to be angry with all the talk in Washington about cutting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. She had to take an early retirement as an X-Ray Technician who worked hard for 24 years because of an injury. She depends on benefits to survive. But she wasn't the only person last night to tell her personal story and express her anger at official Washington's out of touch attitude toward the suffering of working people who rely on our social safety net. They paid for these benefits with their taxes and now they don't want the wealthy and the corporations to avoid paying there share of the deficits brought about by the Bush tax cuts, the needless and illegal wars he fought and the borrowing by the Treasury to fund those deficits (which Republicans approved each time it came up during President Bush's two terms). They haven't forgotten what former Vice President Dick Cheney said about deficits to then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill when the GOP was in control of our government:

O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency.

O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

This is our due. Well, those tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthiest among us and major corporations, the massive and wasteful spending increases for Defense led led to the surge in deficits after Bill Clinton handed Bush a budget surplus. Furthermore, the lack of federal regulation of financial institutions and the lax policy of the Fed regarding the bubble in real estate that blew the economy to kingdom come under Bush in 2007-2008 and the huge sums of cash handed out to bailout said financial institutions was all generated by the excessive spending and borrowing of Republicans.

Now Republicans, whose corporate and wealthy "friends" made out like bandits (literally) during the Bush years, are all about "sacrifice" but the only people they want to bleed are the poor and middle class....

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/25/998421/-Update:-%E2%80%9CSocial-Security-is-not-an-entitlement;-it-is-a-promise--Youngstown,-OH-Townhall?via=spotlight

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Asian Markets Fall Monday on Worries About U.S. Debt Ceiling Debate

Bloomburg News reported late Sunday evening that Asian stocks were off in trading there Monday amid fears that leaders in Washington would be unable to come to agreement on raising the debt ceiling.

As I have begun reporting here, the debt ceiling crisis, while not totally without basis in reality, is, in fact, something of a mirage under the U.S. system which is a credit system, not one in a state of servitude to financial institutions. The Fourteenth Amendment appears to have validity after all.

Buzzflash Describes Eisenhower's Position on Issues; Says He Would be Considered Socialist by Today's Tea Party Types

The BuzzFlash on-line organization, familiar to many progressives, declares in a headline, "Eisenhower Today Would be Considered a Socialist by the Modern Radical GOP." Given as evidence for this statement is a portion of a letter President Eisenhower wrote to his brother Edgar Newton Eisenhower on November 8, 1954.

There are reasons for this overall move to the right among politicians. Some of these reasons have already been given on The Musical Patriot. More will be given in the future. For now, here is the excerpt from the Eisenhower letter. It is honest and revealing.


It is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

A Shower of News, Some of it Good

This past week had an avalanche of news from Washington dealing with the debt ceiling crisis. This one story alone threatened to fill the entire "news hole."

Yet there was one other story important to the future of the news media itself -- the collapse of the Murdoch news empire. Now being compared to Mubarak under attack, Murdoch appears equal parts contrite and terrified. These emotions are appropriate. Whether or not Mr. Murdoch committed any actual crimes, he did, in fact, take advantage of a system which allowed for tremendous media conglomeration. This concentration of power aided the Conservatives in Britain and the Tea Party in the U.S.

I will have more to say about this matter soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is Barack Obama a DINO?

Elementary students and others affectionately refer to dinosaurs as dinos. Dinos are loved as almost no other class of animals is loved among the young set in America.

It is too bad a new class of politicians cannot command such love. Republicans have their "RINO's" -- Republicans In Name Only. Now it would seem Democrats have their DINO's, specifically in Barack Obama, who recently is behaving as a Democrat in Name Only, by advocating cuts to programs serving some of America's most vulnerable -- the elderly and the poor. These two groups of people, rightfully looked after by Democrats for decades, now face possibly Draconian cuts at just the time they need help the most.

As Ronald Reagan was once called the star of 18th Century Fox, Obama's new policy pre-dates Franklin Roosevelt. At least in regards to his new posture of cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Pres. Obama is the anti-Democrat, and the anti-modernist. Next we will be calling him a dinosaur. But first he is already a DINO.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cut the Posturing -- Not Social Security

Here is a fine article addressing our overall social problems. Included is a discussion of the misinformation surrounding Social Security. For willful dissemination of false information, certain journalists and politicians could be tried in a world court of truth. This article effectively combats ideologically- and politically-driven misinformation.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natale-zimmer/two-birds-with-one-stone_b_518434.html

The Hoaxster-in-Chief

In the interest of maintaining something of a public record, I am happy to refer you to the referenced on-line article. The article represents the work of Citizens for Legitimate Government which has been around for ten years.

The subject of the article is whether Pres. Obama's promises have been fulfilled. The story of the Obama Presidency is a bit complicated. But there have been since before the election allegations of a hoax of one kind or another. The authors here provide some documentation for what could be called a hoax. The article makes many good points and is worth looking over.



http://www.legitgov.org/Hope-and-Change-Hoax

Monday, July 11, 2011

Video of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Speech in Defense of Social Security and Medicare




Sen. Whitehouse here eloquently and sincerely speaks on behalf of our nation's seniors and those who will one day be seniors.

Debt Ceiling Kabuki Theater

I am indebted to The Daily Kos for describing the week-end debt ceiling talks as a Kabuki Theater, for that is surely what these talks have become.

And in the spirit of a fast-moving event, allow me to pass along a description from The Washington Postof last week given by one expert. This expert reminded us that rather than use the Fourteenth Amendment, as others have recommended, the President and the American people should be referring to the budget agreement of last spring which in effect directed the Treasury to spend money for specified purposes. It is now up to the Treasury Department to find sources of money, normally the issuance of certain Treasury instruments, to fund these expenditures. In this sense the debt ceiling is null and void because a newer law (the budget agreement) supersedes an older one (the debt limit).

Remember, the United States government operates on a credit system. This is the meaning of the phrase "the full faith and credit of the United States government." It is the faith of the American people in its government, which is ultimately a government of, by, and for the people themselves. If the people are credit-worthy so should be its government. The reverse is also true.

Washington Post Prints Myths on Debt Ceiling

The Washington Post yesterday printed an article on the myths surrounding the current debt ceiling debate. This article should have been on the front page.

Up-Date:
The article is entitled "Five Myths About the Debt Ceiling," was written by Bruce Bartlett, and appears on page B2 (Sunday, July 10, 2011).

A Question and Answer session with the author of the article has been printed on line. It may be viewed here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/outlook-five-myths-debt-ceiling-0711.html

Whitehouse in the White House?

This morning I called the office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island to thank him for his energetic support of Social Security and to suggest that perhaps he should be drafted for the Democratic Party nomination for President. We surely do not need in the White House a President who will put Social Security on the chopping block, euphemistically called "the table."

Senator Whitehouse was interviewed on National Public Radio late last week and called the Republican effort to cut Social Security something they (Republicans) have wanted to do for a long time. Republicans, said Whitehouse, are opposed to Social Security itself for various reasons and are merely using the budget deficit as an excuse for attacking it.

Thank you, Sen. Whitehouse, for telling the truth!

[Click on post title above for video of the Senator's speech on the Senate floor.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Republicans Would End Medicare

There are changes which are cosmetic only, and there are changes which are material, which allow for changes to the essence to the extent that the thing in question is changed beyond recognition. It is this latter kind of change which we have in the Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it. This radical, ideologically-motivated mutilation of the health care plan for seniors would destroy the benefit workers have paid for over their life-times and replace it with a so-called voucher system which would not adequately cover costs. Even a plan which would only phase in a voucher system will weaken the idea of universal protection, a result no one should condone.

Why should we tolerate this playing around with our seniors' health care? It is time to stand up to financial interests who want to open up new revenue streams at the expense of the health security of millions of Americans. Enough is enough! This is the proverbial line in the sand.



Video: Extinct Tasmanian "Tiger"

Here is good quality video of the marsupial called the Tasmanian tiger, assumed to be extinct after the last known individual died in captivity in 1933. Watching this unusual animal I am filled with sadness, if not remorse, for the loss -- so unnecessary -- of a species which survived some twenty million years, according to the blog The Most Beautiful Things.

(Note: Information is unconfirmed for the time being. Use with caution. I will try to confirm the data soon.)



Monday, July 04, 2011

Remembering the Bright Days of July 1776

The following is excerpted from The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2009 edition.

The Lee-Adams* resolution of independence was adopted by 12 "yeas" on July 2 -- the actual date of the act of independence. The Declaration, which explains the act, was adopted July 4.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776....A copy of the Declaration, engrossed on parchment, was signed by members of Congress on and after August 2, 1776.

The immortal second paragraph begins: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--..."


The entire text is found here:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


*Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and John Adams of Massachusetts

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Lengths to Which Ideologues Will Go

The Huffington Post reported in May that Rep. Paul Ryan -- he of Medicare-bashing fame -- has been the recipient (through his election campaign) of over $200,000 from the insurance business. It is the insurance industry which stands to gain if Medicare's assets are scattered to the winds.

Then the Ryan political operation had the audacity to accuse the AARP of trying to profit from Medicare, when in reality AARP's business arm would gain through Ryan's plan. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black...


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/10/paul-ryan-aarp-medicare_n_860285.html

Friday, July 01, 2011

Senator Sanders Gives Speech of the Decade

Senator Sanders in a riveting, powerful speech exposes the sham which is the Republican frontal assault on government aid to the needy. Only rarely do I invoke religion on this blog, but what is coming from right-wing think tanks and the House leadership often bears little resemblance to historic Judeo-Christian values of compassion. In fact, in its callousness the Ryan budget is opposed to such values in all too many ways.

http://www.truth-out.org/sen-bernie-sanders-we-will-not-balance-budget-backs-working-families/1309280399

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism