McCamy Taylor's Journal - Archives
Earlene had a bachelor’s degree. She did white collar office work all her life. At 50, she suffered a stroke which left her paralyzed----on her left side. She was confined to a wheelchair and needed assistance to go to the bathroom or cut her food or bathe herself. She was in and out of the hospital with infections. When sitting up in her wheelchair, her blood pressure would become dangerously low. But, because she could still speak and use her right hand---her typing hand---the Social Security Administration decided that she was healthy enough to work. She died without ever collecting a penny of the SSI she had paid into all her life. She died without ever qualifying for Medicare.
It has gotten to be a joke. A sick joke, like a Gaham Wilson cartoon.
No matter how sick you are, your first request for Social Security disability will be denied. Then, you get a lawyer to appeal, and after a lot of delays, the court decides that you were disabled all along, and you get a backdated settlement---that you have to share with your lawyer. I guess it’s some kind of professional courtesy, the lawyers in the federal government looking out for their colleagues in private practice. Too bad no one is looking out for the folks too sick to work who have no money for rent, no money for food, no money for health care.
A lot can happen in the No Man’s Land between a disability denial and a successful appeal. A schizophrenic can run out money for medication and end up in jail for doing what the voices in his head told him to do. The second heart attack can kill off the myocardium that survived the first heart attack. Spinal stenosis can damage the nerves in your leg permanently. Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause a stroke. Untreated sleep apnea can cause a car wreck that leads to a skull fracture that causes a permanent vegetative state. If a court determines that you really were disabled after all, they will write you a check for a few months SSI payments. But who pays if you die while waiting for justice? And once you are declared officially medically disabled, who pays if you die from treatable medical problems while waiting two years for Medicare? Not the federal government. You pay. Your family pays. Medicare saves money and so does Social Security----
Just how many flaming hoops can a woman in a wheelchair jump through and come out the other side alive? How many land mines can she avoid as she wheels her way through No Man’s Land, dragging a catheter bag and portable oxygen?
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Hillary Clinton has faced more than her share of challenge and controversy. As first lady, she was alternately sexualized and derided (for her thick ankles, her clothes, her home cooked meals). When her husband was impeached for adultery, feminists demanded that Hillary condemn and reject Bill in order to show solidarity with other women. When she ran for president----gathering more primary votes than any woman in the history of America----she was called “bitch”, “witch” and even “c**t”—the last by members of her own party. Pundits accused her of “pimping” her daughter and trying to “crib death” Obama. There is a Hillary Nut Cracker which can smash nuts with its thighs. Her breasts have been the topic of national news scrutiny---
Some folks would bear a grudge. Some folks would take their toys and go home. But not Hillary Clinton. As First Lady, then as Senator and now as Secretary of State, she has dared to speak out in defense of the defenseless.
In 1995, she told the UN---and the world—that women’s right were human rights.
What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on this planet does have a stake in the discussion that takes place here..
In 1996, she told the Democratic Convention that the health and welfare of children is the responsibility of all Americans, not just the parents. A much needed message in a country which too often accepts the inevitability of children paying the price for their parents’ weakness, crimes and misfortune.
And we have learned that to raise a happy, healthy and hopeful child, it takes a family, it takes teachers, it takes clergy, it takes business people, it takes community leaders, it takes those who protect our health and safety, it takes all of us.
Yes, it takes a village.
She told us that there was a right wing conspiracy, and the corporate media laughed. They laughed---and then a few years later they conspired to steal the 2000 election from Al Gore and give the White House to the Bush Family’s idiot and amoral son.
She spoke up for global internet freedom.
“The Internet can serve as a great equalizer.”
And yesterday, Clinton told the UN---and the world---that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered rights are just as important as equality for women and religious tolerance and equal justice for minorities.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.
So when any part of humanity is sidelined, the rest of us cannot sit on the sidelines. Every time a barrier to progress has fallen, it has taken a cooperative effort from those on both sides of the barrier. In the fight for women’s rights, the support of men remains crucial. The fight for racial equality has relied on contributions from people of all races. Combating Islamaphobia or anti-Semitism is a task for people of all faiths. And the same is true with this struggle for equality.
There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: “Be on the right side of history.” The story of the United States is the story of a nation that has repeatedly grappled with intolerance and inequality. We fought a brutal civil war over slavery. People from coast to coast joined in campaigns to recognize the rights of women, indigenous peoples, racial minorities, children, people with disabilities, immigrants, workers, and on and on. And the march toward equality and justice has continued. Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well.
I wish the right wing, which loves to vilify Hillary Clinton, would shut up about her ankles long enough to hear what she is saying. Secretary of State Clinton is probably the best advertisement this country has for Christianity. Lots of folks on the right talk about their faith. But Clinton actually practices it.
Though American Airlines lost money in 2010, that did not stop the company from handing out $5.2 million in cash, stock and other perks to Chief Executive Gerard Arpey. And now, because American Airlines lost money in 2010, it wants to cancel its pension and medical obligations to its retirees. And it is counting upon its existing workers to make it happen.
American Airlines spends $800 million more a year on labor than its main rivals, a major reason that it filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Not coincidentally, it planned to spend $747 million next year on pensions and retiree medical benefits, two expenses that most competitors abandoned long ago.
They also took some hits on healthcare, and in a big bankruptcy, it's not unusual for current employees and retirees to square off.
At American, as with Delta, United and other legacy carriers, deep reductions have to come from somewhere. Lewis and Nichols said their union protected active pilots in Chapter 11, but not retired ones.
"Most employees will be OK," Nichols said about bankruptcy. "But my advice to retirees is to get a fantastic
Pilots stand to take the biggest hit, if history is any guide. They could lose two-thirds of their pensions---the money they counted upon for their retirement during those decades when they flew the planes that made AMR money. They could lose their health benefits, too. That will help them die off more quickly, further lessening AMR's pension obligation.
American Airlines is hoping its current employees will help it walk away from its contractual obligations. The company can claim “There will be no more jobs for anyone if we have to continue to support deadbeat retirees.” And then they can sit back and watch as the unions do the dirty work for them.
Retiree versus workers is the favorite form of divide and conquer this year for corporate America. Every time a progressive complains that the payroll tax cut is intended to bankrupt Social Security, America’s seniors panic---and resolve to pull the GOP lever in 2012.
Here is Fox News pushing the workers v. retired meme.
Conrad said he doesn't want to preempt the announcement, but expects Reid to offer a plan that will be paid for -- a bone of contention for some in Washington who say the extension will take more than $120 billion from Social Security without a revenue stream to replenish the account.
Here is the liberal blog-o-sphere saying the exact same thing:
I am all for helping out working Americans, but continuing or expanding the payroll tax cut is a danger to Social Security.
What do you call a campaign slogan that gets parroted by the opposition? A Big Lie. Buried somewhere in that last article is the admission that the stimulus tax holiday could be paid for by raising the amount that the rich pay into the Social Security fund. But it’s not in the first or last paragraph, where most readers form their impression of an article.
Retirees versus workers has been used to force teachers---many of whom are close to being vested in their pensions---out of jobs. The Pentagon is now flirting with the idea.
Under orders to cut the Pentagon budget by more than $450 billion over the next decade, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is considering reductions in spending categories once thought sacrosanct, especially in medical and retirement benefits.
I know of no other company where you can go to work at age 20, retire at age 40, and collect a pension with cost-of-living adjustments, as well as medical benefits, for the next 40 years or until death. The taxpayers can no longer afford that luxury. Earn a pension? Yes. Collect at age 65 (like everyone else)? Yes. 401(k)? Yes, so all veterans who have served can benefit.
Note that the last letter to the editor was almost certainly written by an investment banker. The bottom line on all this Social Security and pension "reform" is that the Banksters want to get their greedy little hands on your retirement money and squander it away over the course of twenty or thirty years, at which point they will announce (shame faced) "Um...sorry. We don't have it anymore."
All they have to do to make this happen is run a few stories about retirees who draw a pension and run their own businesses or have paying jobs. “Double dippers” within the civilian workforce, such as teachers, have already become the newest welfare queen.
One is engineer Maury Roos, who retired from the California Department of Water Resources with an annual pension of more than $113,000. He returned part-time within weeks.
$113, 000! For shame! That makes him practically a member of the 1%. How dare he allow the state to use his skills? He should hand over that job to a new graduate. That man is killing the American worker! The employer, who discovered it was cheaper to hire someone skilled to do part time work rather than get a new full time employee who had to be trained on the job----it’s not the employer’s fault. Everyone knows that the 11th Commandment reads “Thou shalt not pay a full wage and benefits if you can get the same work for less.” The fault lies squarely on the backs of retired workers who do not go out behind the garage and shoot themselves in the head in order to save the country money and free up jobs for the next generation.
Repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy would go a long way towards allowing the federal government to honor its pension obligations. Raising social security taxes on the wealthy would enable middle class workers to take home more money that would stimulate the economy and create more jobs. But face it. The RNC does not want to create jobs. It does not want to stimulate the economy. It wants us out in the street, homeless, hopeless, starving, in hopes that we will cast a protest vote against Obama next fall. And so seniors are being encouraged to complain
“That payroll tax holiday is coming straight out of my social security check!”
even though a stronger economy with more jobs will keep Social Security solvent.
And workers are encouraged to complain
“I’d be able to get a decent job if those old farts would just die. Medicare is a waste of money. It supports the competition. I work my fingers to the bone, and I don’t have insurance. Why should some lazy old man have it?”
And meanwhile, the Banksters have their eyes on the nation's public pensions and corporations' privately funded pensions and they see great big flashing neon dollar signs.
Ever wonder how those flyers end up on your front doorknob? The ones advertising lawn care services or house painters? No, they are not express delivered by fairies or gnomes. Advertising companies hire day laborers---“walkers”---to go door to door. Ten miles of “door to door”, for a daily wage of somewhere between $40 and $50 dollars.
How do the day laborers get to suburban neighborhoods, the ones with no public transportation system? They are brought in by bus. Not big city buses. Little van type buses. That’s what James Saddler, 52 of Fort Worth was riding on March 4. He and other “walkers” were crowded in the back of a cargo van with no seats and no seatbelts, when the vehicle blew a tire, left the road----
I expect Mr. Saddler’s memory of what happened after that is pretty fuzzy. He ended up in a hospital ICU in a coma. Saddler was lucky. Three of the “walkers” died.
Oh well, at least it was an on the job injury that left him disabled. Workers get compensated when stuff like that happens---maybe. In Mr. Saddler’s case, the employer, Paul Reed of Reed Distributing “filed for bankruptcy, claiming all the victims as unsecured creditors” and then re-opened his business.
What’s a mom and pop firm to do? Even if they crack open their piggy banks, they could not come close to burying three dead and paying the medical bills of those injured. Not with the proceeds of a business that brings in a mere $500,000 to $1,000,000 each year---
But with revenue like that, you would think the company could afford to install backseats and seatbelts in its vans. You would think. But you would be wrong.
Under Texas law, as in most other states, seat belts are not required for adults in a cargo van that has no seats. And while the Econoline owner's manual warns of potential serious injury or death for anyone riding in the cargo area, there's no state or federal prohibition against carrying adults in the back, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. Because there are no seat belts, restrictions on capacity don't apply. And because no one is charged for the transportation, the contract workers who drive the vans are not regulated either.
"Tragedies such as these are a reminder that more needs to be done to protect the rights and safety of workers," said Pablo Alvarado, director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "Day laborers, like those who lost their lives, go to great risks to humbly provide for their families. Employers must be responsible for their safety during and en route to work."
Neil Donovan, executive director for the National Coalition for the Homeless, said he has tried to prevent unsafe cargo vans from cruising for day laborers.
"When I operated a shelter in Boston, we would run off vans that came by," Donovan said from Washington. "It's a pervasive problem. I don't think there's a community that doesn't have exploitation. Where there are people who are in need, there are people who take advantage."
That last line bears repeating.
”Where there are people who are in need, there are people who take advantage.’
Let’s hope the Reeds sprang for liability insurance on their vans. And that the policy was large enough to cover three deaths and three injuries. If not, Mr. Saddler will probably remain on the federal disability rolls for the rest of his life. He will be held up by right wing pundits as a “parasite” getting rich off the tax dollars of others, with no mention of the company that caused his disability and then tried to shift the burden onto the federal government.
Thanks to the Fort Worth Star Telegram for their excellent reporting.
In western European, they have socialism. The people pool their tax dollars to take care of each other, particularly in time of need. In America, we would rather live in poverty than see a bunch of dirty, filthy ____s get a dime they did not earn. Why are western Europeans so much “nicer” than we are? Trick question. They aren’t. They simply belong to populations that are relatively homogeneous. Same language, same race, same religion. When your neighbor is “just like you”, you feel his pain, you want to see him get ahead.
This homogeneity did not come easy. The Germans and their allies attempted to wipe out all the Jewish people in Europe and those who were left over were politely invited to leave. Never ending religious wars resulted in borders being drawn to separate Catholic from Protestant from Muslim. People who spoke different languages also huddled together. Lowlanders fought highlanders and coastal groups battled inlanders, so that people with similar livelihoods and economies were able to form countries where everyone was (more or less) the same. Now that European countries are pooling their resources and importing more laborers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, politicians are able to use divide and conquer strategies to turn Europeans towards corporate fascism. But they have not gone as far we have in the U.S. Yet.
The United States was destined to be divided. Think of where the colonists came from. You have cavaliers on the plantations of the South, talking about the greatness of divine mandate. In the north, roundheads rebelled against monarchy and fought for a society in which profit became the great equalizer---before it became the great divider. The Civil War in the U.S. was as inevitable as the Civil War in England. And then, you have the different immigrant groups that came later, with their different religions, languages, customs. You have different geographies---coastal, farming, mountain---all within the same country, each group fighting for the largest share of the common resources.
The capitalists took advantage of these differences to divide and conquer the American worker. The South resisted unionization, because the bosses told the (white) workers they would have to labor alongside Blacks. Never mind that all workers would make more money and have better conditions with union representation. Whites were told that they would lose something if the other guys gained something. The American Dream was all about taking what your neighbor of a different race, religion, national origin possessed and using it to enrich yourself, your family, your People.
And so, you have middle class whites rebelling against the offer of health care, because middle class Blacks would get it too. You have Christians attempting to prohibit the free religious expression of Muslims, even though the same laws could be used against them. English speakers go ballistic when their schools attempt to teach children Spanish, even though being bilingual is a key to economic success in a country in which the fastest growing demographic group is Latino. Heterosexuals begrudge gays protection against hate crimes, and therefore, they leave themselves vulnerable to hate crimes (against women, against minorities).
There is a fiction in America. Any working class Joe can get ahead---as long as there are plenty of folks poorer, more oppressed, more down by law than he is. This is a lie. In fact, the more poor, desperate, hungry despised people there are in your country, the lower the wages, the poorer the work conditions, the worse the benefits.
No one would begrudge kids education, health care, food. At least, I hope no one would. So, why should we begrudge gays, women, immigrants, minorities those same things? We do not get ahead of the pack by making sure the work houses are full. Because, once built, the work houses have room for all of us.
In the near future....
Congress failed to act to avert the 27% across the board provider pay cut that was scheduled to take effect January 1, 2012. As a result, half the nation's health care providers opted out of Medicare. They had to. With overhead as high as 70%, the Medicare fee cut came straight out of physician salaries. Seniors were forced to scramble for care. The only doctors still taking new Medicare patients worked in the nation's public clinics and hospitals, and they had waiting lists three and four months long due to the rising number of uninsured who were beating down their doors for care.
Congress, which could not be bothered to fix the law that all but killed Medicare was more than happy to accept ungodly amounts of private insurance money. In exchange, they passed a law which replaced Medicare with vouchers. The nation's elderly and disabled were told to go buy private policies. Since the vouchers were not enough to pay private insurance premiums, the rich added a little something extra in order to buy policies almost as good as Medicare. The poor elderly did not have that option. They were stuck with high deductibles, high co-payments, inadequate provider directories and a million hoops through which they had to jump if they wanted to get even bare bones necessary care. Since chronic illness and disability are the main causes of poverty in this country, those who needed health care most received the least. The mainstream media, which lead the attack on Medicare, suddenly began to report the horror stories. Elderly woman who had to drive 100 miles for her dialysis who died when her car broke down. Man who needed a cardiac bypass surgery told to come up with $20 thousand in cash before the hospital would put him on the OR schedule. Another needless death.
Oh my! said the corporate media. Something must be done.
And so all the sick, poor, needy elderly were placed on Medicaid, making them a state problem. This was possible, because the government had changed the Medicaid criteria to exempt retirement and SSI. Seniors who would have had too much money to qualify for Medicaid under the old formula now found themselves competing for the same funds that provided care for children and pregnant women. Only their needs were much,much greater than those of children and pregnant women. A child could get by,more or less, without its shots. A woman could have a baby without prenatal care. Most of the kids born that way would be healthy---more or less. But the poor, sick, needy seniors absolutely had to have their health care or they would die on the streets. States like Arizona and Florida, which already faced budget shortfalls, found themselves saddled with huge medical debt, beyond anything their tax base could ever support. Some states opted to ration services for seniors.However, these "death panels" were massively unpopular. And so, cash strapped states did what they did in the wake of the so called welfare reform movement of the 1990s for children----they began going after "deadbeat" young and middle aged adults, forcing them to pay their parents' medical bills, housing bills, food bills----
What's that you say? It could never happen in the United States? It's in the Constitution----no person shall be saddled with the debts of their mom and dad?
At one time, filial responsibility laws were far more common. As recently as the 1950s, 45 states and the federal government had them on the books. They began to erode during the New Deal, when the Social Security Act passed and the concept of government rather than familial responsibility started to take hold.
But 28 states still have filial responsibility laws: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
Sixteen of these impose civil penalties — they can come after your assets or income if you fail to support your parents. In the eight states where filial responsibility entails criminal penalties, a prosecutor could actually put you in jail. Four states take both approaches.
These parental support laws became unnecessary after Social Security and Medicare. If these two programs are gutted, the states will go after the next of kin. That means a generation of working Americans will find themselves bankrupt paying for services for their parents. Medical poverty will become a multi-generational problem. If granddad is sick, the grandchildren will be in debt for the rest of their lives paying it off.
So, the next time a 20 something or 30 something or 40 something says "That's not my problem" when talking about Social Security and Medicare, remind them that it soon will be. If they say "the voters won't stand for it" remind them that the majority of (voting) Americans will be over 50
As we count down the shopping days to Christmas, here is Washington's gift to America's seniors. In a NYT article, "Support Builds for a Plan to Rein In Medicare Costs" we are told that Republicans and (unnamed) Democrats want to abolish Medicare and replace it with a voucher program. The benefit for America's seniors?
Under the House Republican plan, the federal contribution would be increased each year to reflect the age of a beneficiary and general inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index. But health costs and insurance premiums have been rising faster than consumer prices in general, so the federal contribution was almost guaranteed to fall behind the cost of insurance.
As an alternative, the federal contribution could be set at a percentage of the premium charged by a private plan, or the lowest-cost plans, or it could reflect the average premium for all plans in an area. Beneficiaries could keep some or all of the difference if they chose a plan costing less than the federal payment, and they would have to pay more if they chose a more expensive plan.
The key word here is "chose". The nation's seniors will be free to choose a high cost gold plated insurance policy or a cheap ass no frills plan. The same way our seniors choose whether to eat fillet Mignon or cat food...
Do I need to spell it out? Apparently, I do for the writers at the New York Times. You see, chronic disease in America is the leading cause of poverty. And poverty means less money to purchase health insurance. Meaning that the seniors who need health care most will not be able to afford the policies that will provide that care at a reasonable cost. Chronically ill elderly, the ones who have already lost their homes and pensions due to medical debt will be forced into plans with high deductibles, huge copayments, limited provider directories---
While the retired CEO of Chase will be able to see the plastic surgeon of his choice for that (medically necessary) eyelid lift with essentially no out of pocket charge.
Ice flows might be kinder. Certainly, they would be more honest. By pretending that our chronically ill seniors choose to be sick and choose to be poor, the nation's 1% absolve themselves of responsibility, even as they demand that we, the taxpayers, assume responsibility for their bad investments and failed corporations. Because, apparently, we owe a Lexus and a yacht to the guy who foreclosed on our home but we owe nothing to the woman who cooked our kids' school lunches or the man who built our roads.
Meanwhile, January 1, 2012 is just around the corner and with it the mandatory 27.4% cut in Medicare providers fees that will drive up to half of physicians off the program and make it next to impossible for seniors to get anything other than emergency care next year. If Congress fails to act, Medicare will die a very sudden, very grisly death not unlike that which a drunk motorcyclist could expect to suffer if he plows head first into an 18 wheeler. And all Congress needs to do to achieve this Medicare-cide is do nothing----exactly what they are doing now.
Is that the "secret plan" to make vouchers palatable? Make it impossible for seniors to get care under Medicare in January and then in February tell them "You can get in to see your old doctor if you take this check and hand it over to a private insurance company. But if you are poor we recommend you spend it on a nice last meal instead."
No matter how bad the economy gets, we can all count on GameStop to turn a profit. Every dollar that flows through a teenaged boy’s hands eventually ends up at the videogame retailer. Fifty bucks for a flashy, computer generated graphic heavy game that will provide about twenty hours of play, then it’s back to the store for more. Yeah, I know you were able to get hundreds of hours of play from Final Fantasy VII and Super Mario Brothers. But times have changed. What is good for the light bulb industry is good for the gaming industry. GameStop is synonymous with “profit” in this country….
So, why the hell is GameStop asking for a handout?
GameStop of Grapevine and the General Motors assembly plant in Arlington are applying for refunds on state sales and use tax payments through a state incentive called the Texas Enterprise Zone Program.
For GameStop, the program would provide a tax savings of up to $2.5 million over five years. For GM, the savings would amount to $3.75 million. The tax breaks, tied to new investments, would come on top of other tax incentives the companies might receive.
GameStop plans to invest $150 million for machinery and equipment upgrades at its new refurbishing center and for renovation and remodeling at its Grapevine headquarters and warehouse. The game software company also plans "a large technology upgrade."
Michael Nichols, GameStop's senior vice president of finance, said the investment will result in new jobs, but "I don't now have a specific number."
Do I even need to talk about what is wrong with this? Ever wonder why our schools are so under funded, our classrooms so crowded? It’s because businesses that already make a bundle of money look at programs like this one and say “Hey! More free money! Let’s get some!”
Now, step back for a moment. All the way back to 1976 when Ronald Reagan invented the story of the Chicago South Side woman
"She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."
The imaginary “Welfare Queen” shocked and appalled a generation of Americans who believed that no one should get rich by taking advantage of programs meant for those who really needed the help.
Keeping that in mind, what does that make GameStop? What does that make American capitalism? What does that make the American taxpayer?
12. His political acumen. He managed to lose Congressional seats, during a midterm election, when the opposition party had the White House and the opposition party President was being impeached. Not sure that many in the US could match that kind of political bumbling.
11. Gingrich, as Speaker of the House, was disciplined for Ethics Violations.
The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reprimand House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and order him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House's 208-year history it has disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing.
The ethics case and its resolution leave Gingrich with little leeway for future personal controversies, House Republicans said. Exactly one month before yesterday's vote, Gingrich admitted that he brought discredit to the House and broke its rules by failing to ensure that financing for two projects would not violate federal tax law and by giving the House ethics committee false information.
10. Family values Newt didn’t just cheat on his first wife, Jackie. He dumped her when she was in the hospital getting cancer surgery. Then he refused to pay alimony and child support.
"The most notorious incident in Gingrich's marriage ... was when he cornered Jackie in her hospital room where she was recovering from uterine cancer surgery and insisted on discussing the terms of the divorce he was seeking. Shortly after that infamous encounter, Gingrich refused to pay his alimony and child-support payments. The First Baptist Church in his hometown had to take up a collection to support the family Gingrich had deserted. Six months after divorcing Jackie, Gingrich married a younger woman, Marianne, with whom he had been having an affair."
Recall that cheating on a wife with cancer made John Edwards unfit to be president…
9. Heart of Ice.
Newt on why he wanted a divorce from Jackie: "She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a President. And besides, she has cancer."
Source: Katharine Q. Seelye. "Gingrich's Life: The Complications and Ideals." NYTimes.com 11/24/1994.
From the link above.
8. Bad Taste in Women
So, who does Newt think is pretty enough and young enough to be the First Lady?
7. Raging Hypocrisy
While Clinton was being impeached over an affair with an intern, guess what Newt was doing? If you said “Having an affair with an intern” give yourself a star. The lucky gal? See the photo above.
6. Yet Another Oil and Gas Candidate
Just how many GOP political candidates is the oil/gas lobby funding this year? Do you really to see our country go to war with Iran, in order to “liberate” its nationalized oil, the way we went to war with Iraq?
5. “I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it. I am now a famous person. I represent real power.” Newt
4. "We'd have won in 1974 if we could have kept him out of the office, screwing her on the desk."
3. "We had oral sex," she says. "He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, "I never slept with her."
From the link above.
More hypocrisy. Recall that Newt impeached Bill Clinton for claiming that he had never had “sex” Monica Lewinsky.
2. Cry Baby
Gingrich complained yesterday that in 24 hours of flying to and from the Jerusalem funeral of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin last week Clinton failed to discuss their budget differences - and made Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., sit in the back of the plane and leave by the rear exit.
The speaker said his personal pique helped prompt the partial shutdown of the federal government.
1. The Gingrich that Stole Christmas
A 2010 Congressional Research Service report summarized other details of the 1995-1996 government shutdowns, indicating the shutdown impacted all sectors of the economy. Health and welfare services for military veterans were curtailed; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped disease surveillance; new clinical research patients were not accepted at the National Institutes of Health; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites was halted. Other impacts included: the closure of 368 National Park sites resulted in the loss of some seven million visitors; 200,000 applications for passports and 20,000 to 30,000 applications for visas by foreigners went unprocessed each day; U.S. tourism and airline industries incurred millions of dollars in losses; more than 20% of federal contracts, representing $3.7 billion in spending, were affected adversely.
Merry Christmas, GOP!
GOP pseudoscience strikes again. Dr./Sen. Rand Paul has claimed that there is no link between asthma and air pollution. He bolstered this assertion with a chart showing that air quality in California improved as the number of new asthma diagnoses rose.
“Either they are inversely proportional or they are not related at all."
said the ophthalmologist.
According to Dr./Sen. Rand Paul those warnings that your city issues to folks with lung disease to stay home on ozone alert days are just a huge practical joke. Go on! Send your seven year old asthmatic out to play beside the highway. Rand Paul says its ok, and he should know. He’s a doctor---
Paul's assertion highlights one of the weaknesses of traditional medical school education. Apparently no one at Duke University School of Medicine bothered to teach Dr. Paul that association is not causality---and its corollary, lack of association does not prove lack of causality. Oh my.
Why should a doctor understand biostatistics? Because pharmaceutical companies and medical goods manufacturers will bombard him (or her) with studies claiming that substance x cures (or at least ameliorates) disease y. A doctor who can not read a journal article critically will fall victim to every fly by night drug rep that tries to tell him that no one who has ever taken birth control pills has gotten prostate cancer---meaning that the Pill prevents prostate disease!
I think what Rand Paul meant to say is if the number of asthma exacerbations falls on days when ozone and other air pollutants are high, this suggests that asthma severity is either inversely proportional or not related to air pollution. But, of course, we all know that high air pollution levels are associated with asthma exacerbations. And pneumonia. And heart attacks. Here is the NIH telling us that pediatric asthma exacerbations rise as air pollution rises.
Here’s the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory telling us that ozone and car pollutants are associated with a rise in asthma hospitalizations for children.
More on the above study:
Conclusions: Even at relatively low ambient concentrations, ozone and primary pollutants from traffic sources independently contributed to the burden of emergency department visits for pediatric asthma.
Sorry if I gave the impression above that I am knocking Duke University. I promise I am not. Here is a Duke University researcher describing the link between air pollution and airway inflamation.
I cite the last as proof that Dr. Sen. Rand Paul was asleep during medical school. Good thing he switched careers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that updates payment policies and rates for physicians for services paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) in calendar year (CY) 2012. The Final Rule assumes a 27.4 percent payment cut for physicians in CY 2012 – less than the 29.5 percent reduction that CMS had estimated in March because Medicare cost growth has been lower than expected. As the final rule was released, Secretary for Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement indicating the Obama Administration is committed to fixing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) and ensuring these payment cuts do not take effect.
Yes, I know I sound like a broken record. Yes, I know that Congress has kicked this can down the road so many times that it should qualify for frequent flyer miles. But, that was before Citizens United vs. FEC. That was before the U.S. House of Representatives voted along party longs to get rid of Medicare. That was before the Cato Institute (i.e. the Koch Brothers) declared that the nation could no longer afford to keep its old folks alive. (For links, see my recent journals).
Why should Grandma care that doctors---overpaid doctors who drive expensive cars and own their own homes----are going to see their Medicare reimbursements cut by 27.4%? Because a typical office overhead for a primary care MD is now 70%. Meaning that only 30% of payments received from Medicare are profit. And Medicare is about to cut the profit. So, unless your physician is independently wealthy and can see patients without writing himself a check each month to pay the mortgage on his house, he or she is likely to drop Medicare altogether. Or, at the very least, stop taking new patients.
When will I stop writing abut the SGR? When both houses of Congress get off their lazy butts and do something about it. The Obama administration is doing everything it can. But it can not change the law. Only Congress can do that.
Divide and Conquer is the 1%’s favorite game. By pitting one working class group against another, they can reduce the 99% to 33% for, 33% against and 33% too disgusted to even think about it any more.
Divide and Conquer enabled generations of American businessmen to keep unions out of their factories. All they had to do was whisper “The unions will bring in ____ to take your jobs.” Fill in the black with Blacks, Irish, Italian, Chinese. Workers were willing to accept less pay rather than risk losing their jobs altogether.
Divide and Conquer split the Democratic Party down the middle in 1968 with the Civil Rights side backing Humphrey and the Anti-war side backing anyone but Humphrey. MLK Jr. was conveniently assassinated because he might have made the two sides realize that their struggles were the same. The result---Richard Nixon and the Killing Fields of Cambodia.
Divide and Conquer was a favorite ploy of the Romans when they were crafting their Empire. They even had a phrase for it, divide et impera. It was used later by European colonialists around the world. Recently, we saw France pit Hutus against Tutsis in a contrived genocide in Rwanda aimed at increasing France’s access to the minerals of western Africa. Other countries have played the D&C game in the Congo too, supplying weapons to one side or the other in regional conflicts. Sometimes they supply them to BOTH sides. The result is a country without an infrastructure, incapable of supporting itself so that it becomes dependent upon the foreign buyers of its natural resources which are purchased at bargain prices.
Divide and Conquer was used in the Americas by settlers who pitted one Nation against another. The victorious but weakened winner was then massacred or escorted to a reservation.
Divide and Conquer, Muslim versus Jewish allows a handful of families to control most of the wealth in Israel. Divide and Conquer, Muslim versus Jewish, allows a handful of families to control most of the wealth in Saudi Arabia.
Divide and Conquer pitted minority rights groups against women’s rights groups as described by Angela Davis in her book “Women, Race and Class” the bible for those interested in Divide and Conquer politics.
Divide and Conquer is the Washington Post declaring “Pelosi Knew” about Bush’s illegal interrogations.
Divide and Conquer is the Washington Post declaring that anonymous sources report that Obama plans to slash Medicare and Social Security.
Divide and Conquer is Bush Sr.’s “Willie Horton” strategy and Pat Buchanan’s “Southern Strategy” and the Bush Jr. DOJ’s prosecution of Black celebrities and politicians.
Divide and Conquer tells gays “Blacks took away your right to marry in California.”
Divide and Conquer created the myth of the “Welfare Queen”. At the very same time, Divide and Conquer talks about “Poor white trash.”
Divide and Conquer routinely attends peaceful political rallies intent upon starting violence. D&C can be found on both the police and the protester side. D&C does not represent either group, but inevitably, one side or both are stigmatized for what D&C did. As in “All those protesters are so violent.” Or, “All those police are so brutal.”
Divide and Conquer is the guy at the protest who tries to encourage others to break the law.
Divide and Conquer is the gal who declares “All those____ are so bad!” Fill in the blank with protester, police, soldiers, teachers, parents, elderly, children, striking workers, doctors, nurse, firemen. Never, ever fill in the blanks with investment bankers, military contractors, news media executives, insurance company executives, pharmaceutical executives billionaires. We must not issue blanket condemnation of the rich and famous. That would be class warfare.
Divide and Conquer deals in generalities, not specifics. Divide and Conquer takes the specific and turns it into a generality.
Divide and Conquer often cloaks itself in righteous indignation.
Divide and Conquer is Hillary supporters calling Obama supporters sexists, and Obama supporters calling Hillary supporters racists.
Divide and Conquer created Nazi Germany. Christian Germans were pitted against Jewish Germans and Communists and gays and Roma.
Divide and Conquer whispers into the ear of a white worker “Universal healthcare will steal your insurance and give it to a Black.”
Divide and Conquer whispers into the ear of an unemployed Black “You would have a job if it wasn’t for those Mexicans.”
Divide and Conquer tells a man “You don’t share any responsibility for that child. She should have used birth control.”
Divide and Conquer tells a woman “All men are potential rapists.”
Divide and Conquer says “I am starving, because you have enough to eat.”
Divide and Conquer was denounced by the Founders of this country who declared “We must all hang together or surely we will hang separately.”
Divide and Conquer is the most common form of right wing propaganda disseminated on liberal message boards. It is the tactic used most often to disrupt threads. It is the comment that evokes a visceral sense of outrage even as a warning bell goes off in your head saying “But this isn’t right. This isn’t getting us any closer to our goal.” The arguments that Divide and Conquers crafts have only one solution----you must declare “We refuse to be Divided and Conquered”
Divide and Conquer’s mortal enemy is Solidarity.
I see Occupy as the direct result of the Supreme Court's Citizens United vs FEC .
I am pretty sure that Karl Rove and Injustice Scalia thought that they were being clever when they orchestrated this ruling. All they had to do was create a case to send to the Supreme Court. Have the Bush administration---the one that never enforced voting rights except to protect whites and which never enforced clean air rules and which never, ever enforced campaign finance rules---pretend to enforce an election rule against Citizens United and then watch the case work its way up to the SCOTUS where the final judgment was predetermined. How do I know that last part? Because the first SuperPac was announced as being open for business the very next day.
It took a few months for American voters to figure out what was going on. The press kept mum about the implications of the ruling. But in the fall of 2010, we saw MONEY in politics as we had never seen it before. The will of the electorate seemed to count for nothing. We got a House of Representatives that voted to end Medicare, that obstructed attempts to create jobs. A House that announced publicly that its number one mission was finding some way to impeach the president. As if that would put us back to work.
We Americans have our share of faults, but one of our virtues is our love of free speech. The Supreme Court attempted to take away our free speech by allowing MONEY---foreign as well as domestic---to overwhelm the airwaves. They bought politicians. They bought TV time. They bought the press. They created a government that answered only to the 1%. And as soon as working class Americans noticed that they no longer had a voice in Washington, they raised their voice.
That is why we Occupy. We may not have money. But we have the numbers. And numbers count.
I do not blame the police as a whole for what happened to Scott Olsen, although the 1% wants us to blame all policemen, the way we once blamed Vietnam veterans for the war Nixon/Kissinger escalated. Yes, at least one policeman fired a weapon inappropriately. However the police in general are working class Americans, just like us. They do the job they are told to do. They are given a set of tools and told to use them. I blame the government that was bought by SuperPac money. The 1% paid for this government and they intend to protect their investment, no matter who gets hurt in the process. (Portion in italics added to address the very good points raised in the discussion)
I blame Antonin Scalia, the most disgraceful American of our generation. From Bush v Gore to Citizens United vs. FEC he has violated the laws of the land in the service of the rich and powerful. His legacy will be mud. He is already walking on feet of clay . Unfortunately, at the moment, he still has the power to deprive us of jobs, homes, our lives---and even our right to be heard.
Since 1776, Americans have been willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect their free speech rights. Anyone born and raised in the U.S. knows this. Anyone who attempts to deprive us of those rights knows that we will fight back.
Antonin Scalia shot Scott Olsen just as surely as if he had pulled the trigger himself.
Intro. Alabama is poor. We all know that. But did you know that Alabama is also rich? That's right. The state famous for its poverty is also chock full of rick folks, even though it has no Stock Exchange, no oil wells. Ever wonder how the 1% in a place like Alabama get so much more than their fair share? Here is how.
Alabama or Why I Am a Democrat. It isn't because I think Democrats are any more likely than Republicans to throw banksters in jail. In the post Citizens United world, money runs Washington, and any politician who wants to stay in power has to go where the dollars are. I'm a Democrat, because this is the party that is willing to challenge racism, nationalism, sexism. Case in point, Alabama.
ATLANTA — The federal government asked an appeals court Friday to stop Alabama officials from enforcing a strict immigration law that has already driven Hispanic students from public schools and migrant workers from towns, warning that it opens the door to discrimination against even legal residents.
Sadly, these are some workers and even a few union members who applaud Alabama's tactics. "Good!" they exclaim. "More jobs for Americans!" Not realizing that laws which deprive Hispanics of education and safety (no more calling the police when you get robbed) are adding to the wealth of the wealthiest 1% and keeping everyone else's wages down. How? An undereducated workforce does not have the skills to change the political system. A scared workforce does not have the guts to call OSHA. A poor workforce will work hard for minimum wage. And when your population includes a poor, undereducated, scared workforce, every other worker finds his own wages and protections cut. It happened in England two hundred years ago when they imported Irish (considered an inferior race) to take the jobs held by Englishmen, and it has happened here almost since the founding of this country, with Germans pitted against Irish pitted against Italians against Chinese against Blacks and all of the (men) against women.
We all know about Alabama. We watched its police bust heads, shoot fire hoses and sic attack dogs during the Civil Rights era. Some of us were unlucky enough to live there at the time. White Alabamans can not help being racists son’s of bitches, right? It’s in their (inbred poor white trash) blood….
That’s the myth. The fact is that racism in Alabama is a carefully nurtured crop, just like cotton. The bosses in that state make sure that white workers hate Black workers and Latino workers in order to keep salaries low and work conditions abysmal. Every fire hose aimed at a Black child during the 60s was also a fire hose aimed at white workers---whether the whites knew it or not. Every lynching that occurred in the 1920s tightened the noose around the neck of the entire working class. This divide and conquer strategy has worked for over a century. Engels predicted that America would have never have a successful socialist workers movement as long as workers allowed themselves to be divided and conquered. And he was right.
Even the urge to label white working class Alabamans as inbred, racist rednecks is part of the strategy that the state uses to keep its workers down. Who in America will care if
between 2000 and 2006, approximately 3,400 Alabamians between the ages of 25 and 64 died because they did not have health insurance coverage(?)
Alabamans gave up their right to expect the rest of us to give a damn on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965----
And once again, we slip into divided and conquered mode.
Alabama's Immigration Law. At the moment, the whole nation knows that Alabama despises the Latino immigrants whom employers have lured to the state with jobs. Today, we read about a girl, the daughter of a US citizen, who was called a “filthy Mexican” on her school bus. We also heard about a winning high school football team (Hispanic) that was told to “go home” by the losing team. Alabama has given itself the right to detain and hold without bond anyone it deems looks “furren” if that person isn’t carrying proof of citizenship.
You would think that foreign companies, especially those owned by people who look “furren” would stay the hell out of the state. You would be wrong. Whenever Alabama gets in the news for oppressing some working group---Blacks, Latinos, women---foreign investors start to salivate at the thought of the tremendous profits they can reap from those artificially depressed wages.
Here is a fun and revealing little document about how Alabama has attracted more foreign---including Asian---auto manufacturing companies than any other state in the last few years. Pay particular attention to the part about being sensitive to the values of others cultures. No, I’m not talking about the culture of the workers. Alabama wants to make the Korean bosses feel right at home. Proving that it isn’t the color of your skin or the shape of your eyes that determines whether your kids will be mauled on their school bus. It is how much money you have in the bank.
What does Alabama’s “employer friendly” policy mean for Alabamans? Congratulations! you have the 5th most income disparate economy in the nation!
Alabama has the 5th largest percentage of households making less than $30,000 a year, and the tenth-highest percentage of households making above $100,000 a year.
All that prosperity for so few!
With money on all our minds, it is easy to forget that racism is where wealth inequality begins in this country. Obama gets maligned for our financial ills, while his efforts to bring American workers together by battling the various –isms---sexism, racism, homophobia---are ignored. Almost as if some folks believe that equality is a luxury we can only afford in times of prosperity.
Want to redistribute some of the wealth that the richest 1% now hold in their greedy little “no way this is going to stimulate the economy” hands? Get to work changing the attitudes of workers across the country towards people of other genders, nationalities, races, religions and sexual orientation.
A reminder to those who may have missed my previous journals about the topic. In January, 2012, Medicare will slash provider payments by 29%. This has nothing to do with the deficit reduction committee. These cuts were planned years ago as part of the so called Sustainable Growth Rate (or SGR for short). Over half of Texas physicians surveyed have said they will consider dropping Medicare if the cuts go through. Those that do not want to turn away their existing elderly patients will almost certainly stop taking new Medicare patients. Why? Because the typical primary care physician overhead is 70%----meaning that an across the board cut of 29% could drive a practice out of business, if a large proportion of the patients are on Medicare.
In order to save Medicare from the glue factory, both Houses of Congress must vote to eliminate (or at least kick down the road once again) these scheduled pay cuts. But just last April, House Republicans voted almost unanimously to abolish Medicare for those 55 and under, indicating that Republicans are committed to destroying Medicare----even though they now claim they didn’t really mean it.
Most of us have gotten used to seeing these scheduled cuts delayed. But, this is the first year we have had a House determined to kill Medicare. And there is no guarantee that Senate Republicans will not attempt a filibuster of legislation designed to save Medicare. The fact that Reid has not brought this highly charged issue up for a vote suggests that he is not sure he can get 60 votes, and he does not want to get labeled as the Democrat who presided over the Senate when it “killed” Medicare.
Democratic Representative Allyson Scwartz has crafted a petition, signed by 113 members of Congress (21 of them Republicans) demanding that Medicare be saved.
The 21 GOP signatures is significant. All but four House Republicans voted to end Medicare last spring. The political backlash hit their party hard, so, at least some of them may be rethinking the attack on America’s favorite insurance plan. On the other hand, private insurers are determined to see the program killed, since it could easily serve as a template for universal national health insurance, while the death of Medicare will almost certainly doom any future efforts to create a single payer plan. And thanks to the SCOTUS, private insurance companies now spend an unlimited amount of money bribing politicians.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Committee has also proposed that Congress do away with the scheduled fee cuts. They recommend a smaller (5%) reduction in specialist fees and no change to primary care fees. While the AMA does not like this one, either, MedPAC’s plan would not destroy Medicare.
President Obama continues to call for the repeal of the scheduled Medicare cuts---although you are unlikely to hear the press talk about it. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this Obama Wants to Chainsaw Massacre Medicare article, you will read:
The American Medical Association quickly identified at least one thing it liked about the administration's deficit-reduction plan: Obama's numbers assume passage of a "doc fix" to the Medicare reimbursement crisis created by the program's sustainable growth rate formula for setting physician pay. That formula will trigger a 29.5% reduction in Medicare rates on January 1 unless Congress acts to avert it.
Current federal budget projections assume this massive reduction will occur. Repealing the sustainable growth rate and freezing Medicare rates for 10 years would cost $300 billion, which is an amount that must be factored into deficit-reduction math, the Obama administration said. "Failure to do so simply masks the worsening long-run deficit."
In a press release today, American Medical Association President Peter Carmel, MD, commended the president for recognizing that deficit reduction must take sustainable growth rate repeal into account.
Even the Heritage Foundation wants the SGR repealed.
So, who wants to see Medicare die next year? The Cato Institute aka the Kochs, who complained in late 2010 about Congress’s reluctance to let the SGR cuts take effect in years past.
Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed on — and passed by a vote of 99-0 — a one-year extension of the so-called "doctor fix" for Medicare. The result is almost certainly going to mean higher deficits and more debt piled on the backs of our children.
So, where is the press on this highly charged issue? Good question. A recent AMA poll found that when people heard about the scheduled fees cuts, almost all of them were extremely alarmed. And an alarmed public is an angry, vocal public. Medicare is much more likely to die from the death of a 1000 cuts if the public does not know what is happening. So, if you are one of the private health insurers who wants to kill Medicare, your best bet is not to talk about the issue and hope that the press remains too distracted. Then, after the cuts take effect, you can get your trained puppets in the press to blame it all on the Democrats.
If you are a concerned American who wants to see our nation's elderly continue to receive the health care they deserve, I suggest that you let Congress and your local paper know about your concerns now. Because once the cuts take effect, the public will never regain its confidence in a single payer, government sponsored health insurance program again.
Member since Tue Nov 9th 2004
"God appears and God is light to those poor souls who dwell in night But does a human form display to those who dwell in realms of day." Blake
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