Apr 062014
 

The term “Reich” in US politics can be quite confusing, because there are two: a right Reich and a wrong Reich.  Even more confusing, the right Reich is the Reich on the left.  He is economist,l Robert Reich, and virtually everything he presents is right.  Conversely, the wrong Reich is the Reich on the right.  It is the Republican Reich, the Republican attempt to convert the US into a totalitarian state, a plutocracy with sham elections, controlled media, and a state religion, Supply-side pseudo-Christianity, to control the masses.  Virtually everything they present is wrong.  Here is the right Reich.

0406JobsWhat does the Supreme Court’s “McCutcheon” decision this week have to do with today’s jobs report, showing 192,000 new jobs for March?

Connect the dots. More than five years after Wall Street’s near meltdown the number of full-time workers is still less than it was in December 2007, yet the working-age population of the U.S. has increased by 13 million since then.

This explains why so many people are still getting nowhere. Unemployment among those 18 to 29 is 11.4 percent, nearly double the national rate.

Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don’t have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy’s gains go to the top 1 percent.

That’s why we need to (1) cut taxes on average people (say, exempting the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes and making up the shortfall by taking the cap off income subject to it), (2) raise the minimum wage, (3) create jobs by repairing roads, bridges, ports, and much of the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, (4) add teachers and teacher’s aides to now over-crowded classrooms, and (5) create “green” jobs and a new WPA for the long-term unemployed… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Robert Reich>

In sharp contrast, just read the Ryan budget to see what the wrong Reich plans.  Unless you’re super rich, it will harm you.

Not only do I fully support the right Reich’s plan, but also, the only element I haven’t proposed myself on numerous occasions is the $15,000 FICA exemption.

To move toward the right Reich, we have to stop the wrong Reich.  Whether or not we can depends, in part, on what YOU do between now and November.

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Mar 032014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and am still feeling somewhat tired.  I may have little or nothing for Tuesday, because I have a doctor appointment (routine maintenance) with my Urologist tomorrow.  Hopefully he can help me remember what else it’s for.  I’ll be using the disabled van for the first time, so I have no idea when I’ll return home.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:11 (average 5:20).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The GOP’s growing chart may need an update.  Perhaps a new bar at the bottom redefining rape as "pursuit of sexual freedom"?

0303GOPRape

How about redefining it as any time the GOP gets involved with women’s rights.

From Think Progress: Pennsylvania is one of just 15 states that ban predatory payday loans, for now. If state Rep. Chris Ross (R) and state Sen. Pat Browne (R) have their way, though, the Keystone State will open its arms to companies that already pull billions of dollars out of poor communities each year through loans with average interest rates of over 300 percent.

Here we have the Republican Party representing one of the most blatant forms of vulture capitalism.

From Robert Reich: House Speaker John Boehner says raising the minimum wage is “bad policy” because it will cause job losses. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says a minimum wage increase would be a job killer. Republicans and the Chamber also say unions are job killers, workplace safety regulations are job killers, environmental

regulations are job killers, and the Affordable Care Act is a job killer. The California Chamber of Commerce even publishes an annual list of “job killers,” including almost any measures that lift wages or protect workers and the environment.

Most of this is bunk.

When in 1996 I recommended the minimum wage be raised, Republicans and the Chamber screamed it would “kill jobs.” In fact, in the four years after it was raised, the U.S. economy created more jobs than were ever created in any four-year period.

Robert Reich is spot on. The Republican Reich is full of it!

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0303Cartoon

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Feb 192014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and still trying to establish a new sleeping pattern.  Basically, I’m just making sleep a priority and allowing myself to sleep whenever I feel the need.  That will work this week, but next week I have two medical appointments, so that should prove interesting.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:59 (average 5:08).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From TPM: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was in no mood to celebrate the five-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package on Monday.

“Five years later, the stimulus is no success to celebrate,” McConnell said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “It is a tragedy to lament.”

White House economic adviser Jason Furman wrote in a White House blog post that the stimulus, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, had by itself saved or created an average of 1.6 million jobs a year through the end of 2012.

I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. For Bought Bitch Mitch, saving 1.6 million jobs, when the President is a Democrat, is a tragedy.

From Think Progress: For the fourth time in two years, a rural hospital in Georgia is shuttering its doors over a dearth of patients who can pay for their medical services, the Albany Herald reports. An increasing number of hospitals that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured Americans are being forced to close in states that are refusing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

The Lower Oconee Community Hospital, a so-called “critical access” hospital in southeastern Georgia with 25 beds, will close down and possibly re-open as an urgent care center that provides services that aren’t quite serious enough to necessitate an emergency room visit. Patients in the Wheeler County region who need more extensive medical care after the hospital closes will need to travel upwards of thirty miles in order to receive it.

“We just did not have sufficient volume to support the expenses,” said CEO Karen O’Neal in an interview with local CBS affiliate WMAZ. “It’s a terrible situation, and it’s tragic, the loss of jobs and the economic impact.”

Like other Red states, Georgia is experiencing the benefits of electing Republicans. I hope the fools that voted them in are leaning their lesson.

From Blue Oregon: Last week, the the Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Brought by conservatives cowering against the fear of impending marriage equality in their state, this deep red state considered codifying anti-gay segregation into law. The state senate reined the whole thing in on Friday, however. Apparently allowing public safety officials to pick and choose which people they serve and protect based on sexual orientation was just too much, even for Kansas.

Lest you think this type of public policy is the providence of states where conservatives rule: think again. Oregon has it’s own version of this circulating now as a petition, and they’re gathering signatures. This proposal, along with the one in Kansas, is being sold as honoring "religious liberty".

No. This is not about religious liberty. This is about segregation. "Separate but equal" should never be public policy in Oregon.

Even here in Oregon, which usually leads the way on progressive issues, we need to continually guard against Republican TEAbuggery!

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0219Cartoon

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Feb 182014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and am feeling very tired.  My helper friend has not shown in over a month, and today, I had to take on a lot of the housework I’ve had her doing, including the worst task known to mankind, laundry.  That took it out of me, so this article is all there is.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:06 (average 5:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: So it was that on  Sunday February 16, 2014, Meet The Press featured a segment where Bill Nye the Science Guy ‘debated’ Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) over the recent string of severe weather events and Climate Change. There was a lot of pre-emptive disparagement here at Daily Kos and elsewhere, but watching the actual segment, it turned out to be better than I expected. (If you watch it several times, you get a better appreciation of the job Nye did – and how disingenuous Blackburn’s arguments really are.)

 

I fully agree with the author. Kudos to Bill Nye.

From Upworthy: Economist Ben Powell makes short work of the three standby anti-immigration arguments, leaving me with a ringing in my ears that sounds distinctly like the immortal "They took our jobs" chant from "South Park." They didn’t though. They really, really didn’t.

 

Republicans don’t want you to know these facts, because it debunks their lies.

From NY Times: Last week’s big business news was the announcement that Comcast, a gigantic provider of cable TV and high-speed Internet service, has reached a deal to acquire Time Warner, which is merely huge. If regulators approve the deal, Comcast will be an overwhelmingly dominant player in the business, with around 30 million subscribers.

So let me ask two questions about the proposed deal. First, why would we even think about letting it go through? Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?

Click through for the rest of this excellent Paul Krugman editorial. I trust you will agree that this monopolistic deal must be stopped.

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0218Cartoon

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Feb 172014
 

A couple days ago, I expressed opposition to Obama’s request for fast track authority for the TPP (Trans Pacific partnership) trade agreement.  I felt frustrated, because I like to be able to explain why I oppose something.  Since TPP remains secret, the only direct evidence I have to go on is leaks and rumors.  However, there is lots od indirect evidence, which Katrina vanden Heuvel has covered quire well.

0217TPP

Last Wednesday, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi repeated in no uncertain terms her opposition to granting President Obama authority to seek “fast-track” approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a mammoth “free trade” deal the US has been negotiating in secret since the days of George W. Bush. Fast-tracking the TPP—which Senate majority leader Harry Reid also opposes—would allow the administration to submit the treaty for an up-or-down vote, thus protecting it from any debate or discussion or amendments. Without that authority, the administration would have to take into account the vehement objections of labor unions and other opponents of the treaty, who rightly note that the pact—the text and scope of which have been zealously guarded from public scrutiny—would likely do irreversible harm to American workers and consumers; fast-tracking the TPP would allow its corporate backers and their congressional allies to run roughshod over the treaty’s opponents and avoid a much-needed debate.

If all this sounds familiar, it should: a common nickname for the TPP is “NAFTA on steroids,” and it is worth recalling now how clear it was twenty years ago (to anyone who cared to look) that NAFTA would have precisely the horrific impact on American industry, as well as on the global environment, that it has indeed had. In The Nation, writer after writer warned about NAFTA’s pernicious consequences, in terms that could easily be applied—with perhaps even more force—to the TPP today.

In our March 29, 1993 issue—after NAFTA had been signed by President George H.W. Bush but before Congress approved it—Noam Chomsky wrote in “Notes on NAFTA: ‘The Masters of Mankind’”:

One consequence of the globalization of the economy is the rise of new governing institutions to serve the interests of private transnational economic power. Another is the spread of the Third World social model, with islands of enormous privilege in a sea of misery and despair. A walk through any American city gives human form to the statistics on quality of life, distribution of wealth, poverty and employment…Increasingly, production can be shifted to high-repression, low-wage areas and directed to privileged sectors in the global economy. Large parts of the population thus become superfluous for production and perhaps even as a market, unlike the days when Henry Ford realized that he could not sell cars unless his workers were paid enough to buy cars themselves.

While President Obama has laudably dedicated the remainder of his term to reversing the alarming inequality that has gripped the country in recent decades, his push for TPP seems to demonstrate an insufficient historical awareness of the consequences of free-trade agreements… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

Photo credit: IB Times

This is just the beginning of a very extensive article, and I strongly recommend clicking through to read it in its entirety.

The reason to oppose fast track authority tor TPP is precisely that we do not know exactly what it contains.  Before it becomes law it is critical that we have the opportunity to analyze it, debate it, and make whatever changes are needed to guarantee that American workers are not the victims of vulture capitalists, as they are under NAFTA.

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Feb 072014
 

Given the rollout difficulties the Obama administration have had implementing the Affordable Care Act, critics with have the brains God gave a special-needs cockroach would latch onto that meme and keep hammering.  Fortunately, the above description overestimates the intellectual acumen of the Republican Party by a wide margin.  Were that not so, they would not come up with lies as easy to debunk as their latest, that ending “job lock” takes jobs out of the economy.

0207JobLockOne of the best arguments for health-insurance reform is that our traditional employer-based system often locked people into jobs they wanted to leave but couldn’t because they feared they wouldn’t be able to get affordable coverage elsewhere.

This worry was pronounced for people with pre-existing conditions but not limited to them. Consider families with young children in which one of the parents would like to get out of the formal labor market for a while to take care of the kids. In the old system, the choices of such couples were constrained if only one of the two received employer-provided family coverage.

Or ponder the fate of a 64-year-old with a condition that leaves her in great pain. She has the savings to retire but can’t exercise this option until she is eligible for Medicare. Is it a good thing to force her to stay in her job? Is it bad to open her job to someone else?

By broadening access to health insurance, the Affordable Care Act ends the tyranny of “job lock,” which is what the much-misrepresented Congressional Budget Office study of the law released on Tuesday shows. The new law increases both personal autonomy and market rationality by ending the distortions in behavior the old arrangements were creating.

But that’s not how the study has been interpreted, particularly by enemies of the law. Typical was a tweet from the National Republican Congressional Committee declaring that “#ObamaCare is hurting the economy, will cost 2.5 millions [sic] jobs.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Truthdig>

Chris Hayes explained this and pointed out why the misunderstanding of this report is so widespread.

For the most part, media has just parroted this Republican lie, by focusing on what Republicans are saying, but ignoring what the underlying CBO report actually said, leaving voters misinformed.  Therefore, it’s up to people like us to make sure the truth gets out.

This is the truth.  Eliminating “job lock” will have no effect at all on the number of jobs available.  However, it will lower the unemployment rate, because many people leaving these jobs will not be seeking other work, and they will be replaced with people, who have been seeking work.  So in the process, it will save taxpayers billions in unemployment benefits.

This also the truth.  RepubliCare, the Republican alternative to ObamaCare, is nothing but returning healthcare to Big Insurance control, with even fewer restrictions than there were before ObamaCare was implemented.  It does, however, offer the RepubliCare Death Benefit.  Anyone who cannot pay gets to die for free.

RepubliCare

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Jan 132014
 

I’m writing very early for tomorrow to sleep all I can before my Broncos’ worship in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb with the evil Chargers.  I’m still feeling horrid.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:34 (average 4:16).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Ecstasy:

0112-Broncos24-Chargers17

Wooo Hooo!! :-)

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: At a hastily called press conference today, Chris Christie revealed that he only became aware that he was the governor of New Jersey in the past seventy-two hours.

“Unbeknownst to me, some people I thought I could trust were secretly working to elect me governor of this state,” a visibly stunned Christie told reporters. “I have acted swiftly and fired them all.”

While asserting that he had terminated all of the people who were involved in the scheme to elect him, he said that, if he finds additional conspirators, “I will deal with them accordingly.”

Christie struggled to explain how he remained in the dark about being governor, a position he has held since 2010: “I guess I’m just not much of a detail person. People think I’m a micromanager. I’m not. If a bunch of people are going behind my back and plotting to make me the governor, that’s not the kind of thing I pick up on.”

That’s only slightly less absurd than his real BS.

From Raw Story: The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday that it is preparing to hear a challenge to an Ohio law prohibiting candidates and political groups from making false statements in campaign advertising. According to Huffington Post, anti-choice group the Susan B. Anthony List maintains that Ohio’s False Statement Law stifles their right to free speech.

In short, the question before the Court is whether Republicans have the Constitutional right to lie in their campaign ads. This case could prove most interesting.

From Robert Reich: The U.S. economy created a measly 74,000 new jobs in December, and a smaller percentage of working-age Americans is now employed than at any time in the last three decades (before women surged into the workforce).

What does this have to do with the fact that median household incomes continue to drop (adjusted for inflation) and that 95 percent of all the economic gains since the recovery started have gone to the top 1 percent?

Plenty. Businesses won’t create new jobs without enough customers. But most Americans no longer have enough purchasing power to fuel that job growth.

That’s why it’s so important to (1) raise the minimum wage at least to its inflation-adjusted value 40 years ago — which would be well over $10 an hour, (2) extend unemployment benefits to the jobless, (3) launch a major jobs program to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, (4) expand Medicaid to the near-poor, (5) enable low-wage workers to unionize, (6) rehire all the teachers, social workers, police, and other public service employees who were laid off in the recession, (7) exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security payroll taxes and make up the difference by removing the cap on income subject to the tax.

I fully support all seven of Reich’s proposals.

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