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kenzee13's Journal
Posted by bread_and_roses in Latest Breaking News
Wed Nov 30th 2011, 08:30 AM
I cannot speak to the solidity of the author's main premise - about the eleven rival regional cultures in the US - I simply don't have the background/knowledge base - but it's interesting, and I suspect that like most classification systems, it has some truth and some conclusions open to challenge. But the analysis of the probable future of the Tea Party "movement" is hopeful of it's not-too-distant eclipse - a happy thought. Besides, the cultural analysis certainly has pertinence in our ongoing war against the Oligarchs/Corps (see particularly the description of the Deep South:

A Look at America's Geography Shows That the Tea Party Is Doomed
Even as the movement's grip tightens on the GOP, its influence is melting away across vast swaths of America, thanks to centuries-old regional traditions.

...Established by English slave lords from Barbados as a West Indies-style slave society, this region has been a bastion of white supremacy, aristocratic privilege, and a version of classical Republicanism modeled on the slave states of the ancient world, where democracy was the privilege of the few and enslavement the natural lot of the many. It spread apartheid and authoritarianism...

... the Tea Party has encountered little resistance to its agenda in the four nations of the Dixie bloc, as it is a carbon copy of the Deep Southern program of the last two centuries: reduce taxes for the wealthy and services for everyone else, crush the labor unions, public education, and the regulatory system, and suppress voter turnout.

In the author's analysis, other regions have very different cultural norms (thank the goddess), thus preventing the Tea Party from gaining lasting power in them. (The description of the LePage governorship in Maine is quite hilarious and worth reading.)

It's also worth noting, I think, that the strategies the author suggests for capturing those "swing" voters in regions where the culture "prizes personal freedom and resents domination by outsiders" marks their strain of a sort of Libertarianism might include:

If progressives were to campaign in these regions on promises to bring rogue bankers, mortgage lenders, mining interests, health insurers, seed companies, and monopolistic food processors to heel, they would have far wider appeal; here, regulation can be sold as a matter of justice, the closing of tax loopholes a matter of fairness.

are exactly the strategies that our wholly owned so-called "Representatives" of both the R & D stripes can't undertake without alienating their Corporate Masters. (Oh, well - so much for "hope")

All in all, this article is more a WE submission, but it's only Tuesday, and by Friday I'll have read hundreds of other articles and forgotten about it ... thought some here might enjoy it.

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If you can find any reason to believe those who oppose it have the best interests of workers at heart, I'd sure like to hear it.

Left menu on this page for sources: /


be sure to click on "Organizations."


be sure to click on "anti-union network" which takes you here: /

Then click on "Hot topics/anti-union network" which takes you here: /

Lots of good information there, including this, which really tells you all you need to know:

Anti-Union Groups Spending Millions Against Employee Free Choice Act
July 31, 2008
Right-wing anti-union groups are pouring tens of millions of dollars into an effort to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. Front groups plan to spend upwards of $120 million on misleading advertising against pro-worker Congressional candidates in the 2008 elections.

According to reports, several anti-union front groups plan to collectively spend almost $100 million in the next year against the bill and those who support it. The breakdown is as follows (from the National Journal):

Chamber of Commerce: $20-30 million
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace: $30 million
Employee Freedom Action Committee: $30 million
Freedom's Watch: $30 million (from one anti-union contributor)
Center for Union Facts: unknown, but in the millions
Sheldon Adelson—a major right-wing billionaire and fundraiser—recently called the Employee Free Choice Act "one of the fundamental threats to society"—the other being “radical Islam.” Adelson is vehemently anti-union, and put up $30 million of his own money into Freedom's Watch, a conservative advocacy group, as part of an effort take on Congressional candidates in 2008.

But the Employee Free Choice Act just isn't a cause for anti-union entities to spend money. Republican Senate leadership is trying to use the bill to drum up major contributions: "It’s our No. 1 issue to raise money on," said Senator John Ensign (R-NV), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

During the election, these groups were running expensive ads in at least some swing states, trying to garnar Republican wins. They did not have much success.

Evidently, workers have some doubts as to why the very same entities that fight like hell to keep workers' wages low, their benefits non-existent, their working conditions both oppressive and unsafe, would suddenly have such tender concern for them.

edit to add last link

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An article by Kevin Alexander Gray sums up the code in these sermons - it was written in response to Obama's Father's Day speech, but just substitute "parents" for "fathers" and it applies:

Vilifying Black Men to Win Favor with the Man

Why Does Barack Obama Hate My Family?

Early in the campaign year, Obama used one of the oldest racial stereotypes in a speech to black South Carolina state legislators: "In Chicago, sometimes when I talk to the black chambers of commerce, I say, 'You know what would be a good economic development plan for our community would be if we make sure folks weren't throwing their garbage out of their cars'.” Translation; black people are dirty and lazy.

One would think getting money is a better plan.

Then, the day before the Texas primary, he let loose again, in a predominantly black venue: "Y'all have Popeyes out in Beaumont? I know some of y'all, you got that cold Popeyes out for breakfast. I know. That's why y'all laughing. ... You can't do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school." Translation; black people are fat, stupid and lazy.

How would people respond if John McCain (or any person of a different race, nationality or ethnicity) threw out stereotypes like these? What would we say if a white person had stood in the pulpit of a black church, or anywhere else for that matter, and referred to black men as “boys,” in any context?

All over the world, in time after place, we see that where people can live in a reasonable degree of security, with access to life-sustaining resources and opportunities for meaningful, productive work that sustains families, most people behave "responsibly" according to whatever "responsible" means in that particular culture. If, for instance, the culture devalues girl children, then female infants will be abandoned by parents who would be "responsible" with a male child; if the culture permits it, less-than-perfect infants of either sex will be exposed to die by "responsible" members of society. Where violence and poverty and hopelessness are the norm for a majority, many parents who would be "responsible" under more favorable conditions will give up. And yet we persist in calling for "personal responsibility" from people in circumstances that make such "responsibility" near-impossible. We point to the exceptional few who manage to do so, forgetting that few of us are exceptional.

We have had at least three generations of total abandonment of our inner cities to violence, inescapable poverty, a "war on drugs" that cycles the unemployed and unemployable population in and out of prison, wretched schools, hunger - all in the midst of a media culture that tells everyone they should be driving a new car, shopping for this or that, eating out, and living in a sweet colonial-style suburb with a green yard and a golden retriever for the kiddies. But somehow, it is "personal responsibility" that is to rectify these and many other institutional social injustices?

I know why Obama is making these pandering, trite, predictable, statements. They are required by the deep and abiding racism in this country. By our thirty years of indoctrination in bootstrap mentality. By our unwillingness to see ourselves as wage-slaves only a few paychecks from poverty ourselves. By our need to see ourselves as better than the "other" and independent of our culture/peers. By our knapsack of white privilege.

* Let's look to our politicians to craft the programs and legislation that address poverty and violence, and trust that most people, given half a chance, can then behave responsibly.

*on edit, as I was interupted and hit post inadvertently

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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Jan 02nd 2008, 08:52 AM
After all, "welfare" is simply some money - unless perhaps one considers that its' inadequacy to even provide food and shelter is destructive of community. In which case increasing it would be the answer, or part of it. In fact, during the sixties there was a vibrant and growing "welfare rights" movement which was strengthening community. The Black Panthers, in their non-violent mode, were another manifestation of the same principle - people exercising their own power to create community to enact change. The insane "war against drugs" took care of that - assuring an endless supply of illicit drugs and guns, the endless cycle of incarceration, and the institutionalization of Prohibition era gangster violence in our inner cities. Can't have those poor (and especially black and brown) people actually organizing now to effect change and control their own lives, can we?

What we need is the right combination of government help that also puts personal responsibility into play.

And exactly how has "personal responsibility" ever not been "in play?" I am sure you realize that "personal responsibility" is right wing code for punish the poor for being poor - in essence, let them die if, for whatever reason, they fall into the underclass in our Capitalist world. I excuse you from intending those meanings, but by using that phrase as if it were meaningful you reinforce that world-view. You say that you do not have children - well, if you want a dose of personal responsibility, try having a child - on welfare or not. There is nothing in the basic provision of food, shelter, medical care and education that "excuses" one of personal responsibility, except in a Libertarian hell where one must "buy" all of those "goods," and I am sure you are not advocating such an approach.

Perhaps what we need is a guaranteed national income, to take the stigma off welfare. After all, Alaska does this, on a small scale, and no one accuses that "dole" of destroying community or diminishing "personal responsibility." People have forgotten that Nixon actually floated this idea. It is interesting how ready we are to assume that a paltry sum (in NYS roughly $500 per month including a rent allowance for two) is so destructive of "personal responsibility" and "community" while accepting that a $20 million "golden parachute" will not do the same....

Of course! I have to work! We all have to work. I decided not to have kids yet for precisely this reason--because I cannot afford them right now. I'm not judging, I'm just saying. Life is hard!

You are aware, I presume, that there are no jobs in our inner cities? And that getting to a job in some suburb is difficult and very expensive, even without the added factor of getting a child to and from daycare? And that the human desire to have children is not, nor ever has been, controlled by income? (It is influenced by income and life opportunities, but if I remember what I've read aright, falling birth rates and delayed childbirth generally come AFTER living standards rise.) Tell you what, try this for a day. Borrow someone's infant. Get up several hours before you do now, wake the infant, feed and dress him/her, pack a bag with formula and clothes for the day, bundle him/her up, go out and wait for a bus, ride to day care, go back out and wait again for the bus, take the bus to your four hour shift at McDonald's, repeat after the shift. Don't forget that the bus is unlikely to stop right in front of either your house or the Day Care location, so you have a walk at both ends, in all weather, lugging an infant and a heavy bag. Oh, and that's not a day when the Day Care calls to tell you the child spiked a fever, and you have to leave work to pick up the child and get to a doctor. You will, depending on where the child care is, spend two-four hours getting to and from your four hour, minimum wage job. Which will probably not gross you enough income to take you off welfare anyway. Now, tell me that makes sense, or is anything but sheer punitiveness?

However - and I do not say this in denigration - that sentence is so saturated with the underlying premises of Capitalism that I cannot begin to respond to it. I will simply say that if one takes off the Capitalist lenses it becomes easily apparent that tying the desire to bear children to one's earning power is insane. Not to mention that minimum wage will will not take even a nuclear family of three with two wage earners out of poverty, meaning that those workers, by your standard, should NEVER have children under our current system. And, one might consider that there is nothing inherently "wrong" with young women of say 16 and into the early twenties having children - it is, actually, precisely what nature intended. And if we want younger girls to stop having children, perhaps we should stop putting growth hormone in our food supply - girls are now entering menarche as young as nine, which I seriously doubt nature did intend.

And why, in a filthy rich country, should obtaining basic food, shelter, medical care, and education be "hard?" It should be a right. And surely, whatever your thoughts on the "personal responsibility" of the parents, you can hardly believe that children should be denied these basics because they were unlucky enough to have "irresponsible" parents?

So basically the former system made it more desirable to have kids before one was ready for the responsibility? Did someone who actually postponed parenthood get the same privilege of being able to go to school full time?

Of course someone who "actually postponed parenthood" had the same "privilege" of opting to go to school full time - although that begs the question of why education suitable to one's talents and potential should be a "privilege" in such a rich country. Do you think that those going to school did not have to acquire grants, take out loans, etc? All welfare did was treat school like "work" and leave that paltry grant in place, meaning that a single mother (or father, for that matter) did not have to take a job. In essence, that also granted child-rearing the status of "work" - and what is wrong with that? Raising children is surely an essential function of a human community, no?

Not to mention that you seem to be putting a desire to "punish" the "irresponsible" parent ahead of what may be best for the community. Taking all the premises which underlie your post as givens, it is better for the community to, where possible, move families out of poverty. If a single parent has the ability and desire to, say, become a ultrasound technician, and those jobs are available and pay enough to support a single parent and child, then it is in the communities interest to make that move possible. Denying that opportunity to "punish" the "irresponsible" individual who had the temerity to have a child at the "wrong" time is in no one's interest.

But all that begs the question that I'll ask again. Say we could "fix" all the barriers that keep people from being able to perform jobs that pay enough to support a parent and child - you know, those "high-tech" "information age" jobs we are always hearing about. Where are all those jobs? So, what then?

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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jan 01st 2008, 12:09 PM
Closely followed by the "I work in welfare and saw the sudden pride instilled/go to work/value education." Oh, yes, those poor stupid poor people who needed welfare "reform" and "Liberal" policy wonks to "make them" want to go to work and see their children get an education.

Well, I worked in various branches of "welfare" for many years, and followed studies, policies, etc.

The premises upon which the Clinton welfare "reform" were based were fallacious and essentially, mere repetitions of the demonetization and poor bashing of the Reagan years.

Studies were available at the time showing that most AFDC mothers already worked, but that due to the nature of the work available to them, the inadequacies of child-care/transportation/medical care/etc, and the inherent difficulties of parenting (sick children, etc. - which apply btw to both married and single working parents) they usually cycled on and off welfare as work was available and/or could net them an income at least equal to welfare.

Parents - including single mothers - on welfare were already required to seek/go to work once the children were of school age. If they couldn't find work, they had to do "work relief" - ie, work in County parking lots, etc.

Now, mothers of infants are expected to work, and deal with the vagaries of public transportation, low-wage jobs with crazy schedules, take whatever child care is available - there is not sufficient child care funding to assure quality care for all those who are eligible. Working while caring for infant is difficult under the best of circumstances; for these mothers, it is often a nightmare, contributing neither to eventual getting out of poverty nor healthy parenting.

Prior to welfare "reform" in NYS a mother could go to a two-year school full-time to fulfill her "work requirement" and have a shot at eventually getting into a profession that would actually take her out of poverty. Now, that same mother must fulfill a "work requirement" of at least 20 hrs - maybe more, I've been out of this work for a while, memory may not be exact - and anyway, isn't raising that requirement to 30 hrs one of the provisions in the Bill that "friend of the poor" HRC voted for? I can't keep track....too much hypocrisy and deception to remember it all.

Now, for a single mother to work 20 hrs a week AND go to school AND get a child to day care AND do homework as well as home-work....even under the best of circumstances....try it using public transportation. Right. As always, a few will manage, either because they have near super-human intelligence, resourcefulness, family support, a healthy "easy" child or some combination therof....and those few will be held up as a standard, for those who have none of those advantages as well.

And say every single one of those "welfare mothers" was now educated, skilled, "work-ready" in terms of no major barrier, has transportation, has the requisite wardrobe and middle-class social skills - where are the jobs for all of them? Oh, right.

The Clinton welfare "reform" is nothing but right-wing hatred of the poor and racism elevated to policy. Dropping welfare rolls prove nothing except that fewer people are on welfare - they don't tell you why, or that those individuals have living-wage jobs, or are not homeless.

As for "having children to get more welfare" in NYS - one of the more generous in terms of benefits -the difference in the "standard of need" between two and three people is currently $59. Pro baby not even enough to buy diapers. Increases in rent allowance and other benefits are equally paltry. No one has a child to get an extra $59 per month. The human desire/need to have children is as natural as breathing, and it is only in a corrupt capitalist society that humans would be expected to forgo it because they don't have "enough money."

WIC supplements food resources for the poor: a necessity because of the inadequacy of the food stamp grant. That grant is still inadequate once the child is too old for WIC, but I guess we decided as a society that slightly older children can better endure chronic hunger. WIC has never been fully funded and so it has never been possible for everyone who qualifies to receive it. Resulting, for instance, in toddlers being bumped off to serve infants. Like WIC, public housing has never served more than a fraction of those eligible for it. Leaving huge numbers of the poor at chronic risk for homelessness. None of these deficits were remedied by Clinton's welfare "reform."

The poor do not need caseworkers to "give them" pride. The poor are just like you and me. Most, like most humans everywhere, want to feel meaningfulness in their lives, whether derived through paid work or some other endeavor. A few, like some among the rich and in every other class/category/division of choice will choose indolence. Far more of "the poor" have various employment barriers or disabilities.Since capitalism requires a disposable labor pool and prefers a large pool of unemployed to drive wages down, I don't see why this is such a problem - the indolent simply fulfill that role.

Were we truly concerned about "the poor" we would do something about the appalling third world conditions in many of our inner cities, including in the schools there. We would have programs comparable to the FDR era "public works" If we were going to accept the Capitalist demand for less than full employment and a disposable labor pool, we would admit it and at least provide those out of work with a decent subsidy. Welfare "reform" did none of this. We would hardly fret about those few individuals who prefer watching TV all day to doing productive work - they too, have their place, providing jobs for an endless succession of caseworkers and social workers.

edit for misplaced paragraph

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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Sep 25th 2007, 02:33 PM
nylon stockings, and at contemporary "business" garb in general. They will look through fashon history with amused wonder at our Corporate Masters throttling themselves in 100 F weather in Washington with ties and suit jackets and encasing themselves in hot nylon from waist to toe. They will wince with sympathy at the multitude of drones forced to follow their Masters in such repressive, impractical, all-weather uncomfortable uniform.

People who do the real work of the world don't, for the most part, wear neck-ties. Health Aides. Nurses. Teachers. Carpenters. Road builders. Farmers.

(none of which has anything to with Iran or Ahmedinijad of course, or what I think about either. I just think one should always take a critical look at the conventional, since it is so often a guise for wielding power - or the aspiration to do so. Or it masks an uncritical deference to power - like the notion that the furniture in the WH somehow deserves the "respect" of closed rather than open shoes.)
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Nader. We're negligible, except when we're not. We're so negligible that, under ACT in 2004:

ACT’s GOTV Activities Around The Country

In 2004, ACT Had 93 Field Offices And An Army Of Over 100,000 Staff And Volunteers Who Reached Over 4.2 Million Targeted Voters on Election Day. “In 2004, 93 ACT field offices, staff and tools were open to over 40 partner organizations. This unprecedented commitment to building core political infrastructure culminated in an army of over 100,000 staff and volunteers working on Election Day with common plans and voter targets. ACT volunteers reached over 4.2 million targeted voters on Election Day 2004.” (ACT Website,, Accessed 3/10/05)

ACT Employed Over 5,000 Canvassers And Trained More Than 80,000 Volunteers. (ACT Website,, Accessed 3/10/05)

ACT Claims To Have “Best Voter File Available With More Than 65 Million Targeted Democratic Voters In 17 States.” (ACT Email, “What Is ACT Doing Now?” 3/9/05)

In Last Three Weeks Of Election, ACT Made “16 Million Phone Calls, Sent 23 Million Pieces Of Mail And Delivered 11 Million Fliers Door To Door.” (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)

ACT Registered About 500,000 Potential Voters In 2004. (Glen Justice, “Advocacy Groups Reflect On Their Role In The Election,” The New York Times, 11/5/04)

ACT Registered At Least 102,000 Voters In Missouri, 79,000 In Ohio, 126,000 In Pennsylvania. “Back at ACT’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., spokesman Jim Jordan reels off the statistics. The group has already registered 102,000 voters in Missouri, 79,000 in Ohio, 126,000 in Pennsylvania and 40,000 in Florida.

I was (and am) part of one of the grassroots progressive organizations that partnered with ACT in '04; whether the above figures are strictly accurate or not I don't know, and don't have the time or energy to research. I do know that the effort of the progressive grass roots was massive in '04. We were working- constantly - from October of '03. Whatever the case in the rest of the Country, here in upstate NY, that effort was made by progressives of all stripes, not the Democratic establishment. We were peace activists, environmentalists, Greens, grass-roots community activists, Indie Media activists - exactly the sort of people so despised and written off by DLC beltway strategists. The people who vote for the lesser-evil Democrats over and over because the Damocles Sword of the SCOTUS hangs over our heads.

Have I forgotten the DLC establishment objections to all that work? Could be. We weren't paying much attention to them? Did they object? Anyone remember? Maybe we're so negligible we should just stay home this time. Maybe the revulsion against the BFEE has reached such heights we wont' be needed this time around. I wouldn't mind a rest.
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Posted by bread_and_roses in Editorials & Other Articles
Wed Sep 19th 2007, 06:35 AM
I could not vouch for the "six" but I doubt it is far off. It may even be an underestimate.

There was a dramatic 60 percent national decline in the number of people receiving federally-funded, welfare (TANF) between August 1996, when President Clinton signed the welfare reform bill into law, and December of 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services. The number dropped from 12.2 million people to 4.8 million.

That's a little under eight million, I believe. However:

Furthermore, analysis of welfare caseloads suggests that program design or administration has already contributed to caseload decline. In the mid-1990s, over 80 percent of all families eligible for cash assistance got it, while in the most recent report to HHS, less than 50 percent were getting help.

So even in the mid-nineties, when an expanding economy made it possible for more people to find work, around 20% of those eligible for cash assistance were not getting it. If 12 million were getting welfare in '96, 20% would be over 2 million. So add those to the eight million or so noted in the first quote. That's ten million. Sounds good - ten million off welfare. The problem is that it has always been hard to track those who went off.

Government studies on welfare almost always fail to fully account for people who have left the public assistance rolls but did not obtain employment. For example, the most significant New York State study on this topic, “Leaving Welfare: Post-TANF Experiences of New York State Families, June 2002,” was able to obtain information from only 53 percent of sampled families.

The study assumes that the families interviewed had identical outcomes to the 47 percent of families who did not respond. But it is highly likely that the families that could be located for interviews had far better financial and employment conditions than those families who did not participate.

(by the way, this author worked in the Clinton administration and still "on balance" thinks he "did the right thing.")

If you extrapolate NY to the rest of the Country, approxamately half of the ten million who either left the rolls or didn't get the benefits they were eligible for in the first place = about five million. Not so far off six. Nor is that the total story.

According to more recent statistics from New York City, out of the people who left public assistance over the past year, less than 40 percent did so because they were placed in jobs. Out of that 40 percent, fully 24 percent were no longer employed after six months. Thus, almost 70 percent of people who left welfare in New York City had no post-welfare employment reported after six months. Because the City does not track former recipients beyond six months, we have no idea how many more former recipients may have lost employment later on.

Other data from around the country now indicate that, especially in this still-difficult economy, many people left welfare without having jobs, but even many of those who did obtain jobs early on likely lost them later, or kept jobs but didn’t earn enough to feed their families.

Now, you may accuse me of mixing statistics, or playing with numbers, but I assure you that is not my intent. It has always been difficult to find hard data on welfare, even before "reform." Different studies use different measures, etc. And I am no statistician, so simply do my best to wade through.

However, even BEFORE welfare "refrom" there was reasonably good data (at least to the best I could evaluate it) that most families cycled on and off welfare as the availability and feasability of work changed. The "rolls" were quite fluid - some families going on, some going off. People would get a job, then get laid off - or hours cut - or a child would get sick - or the car would break down - or the Day Care provider (often a relative or friend) would have to quit for some reason - or, or, or. Working is very hard when you're poor, just logistically.

Since you seen to think welfare "reform" worked so well, here's a little experiment for you. Borrow an infant who's 18 months or so overnight. Get up at 7:00 or so for your 10:00 AM shift at K-Mart. Feed and dress the baby, put together his/her supplies for the day, get out the stroller and walk the three blocks or so to the bus stop. (This is better is sub-zero winter weather, but I won't insist). Take the half hour ride to the Day Care. Get off the bus, walk the blocks to the Day Care home, get the baby settled, walk back to the bus stop, take another half hour or so ride to work. Work five hours, because they've cut your shift. Repeat the morning in reverse. When the baby is sick the next day, call in. You might lose your job, but the Day Care doesn't take sick kids. You still are not making enough even to pay your own rent, so you still have appointments at "the Welfare." Try to schedule them on your day off - difficult, because they make the appointments weeks ahead, and you don't know Monday's schedule till Saturday before.

Yes, there were problems with the welfare system before "reform." They could have been fixed without the draconian, punitive measures instituted. Most families wanted to work, tried to work, even before "reform." The initial success of "reform" was due largely to an expanding economy and would have happened anyway, I think. Other success was due to backward states which hadn't had support programs for poor working families instituting them (here in NY we did have them before "reform."). Again, those reforms could have been made without the draconian measures. We see the results of those measures now. In my area, approxamately half the Food Bank use is by low-income working families. Around the Country, our homeless, child-poverty, and child-mortality figures are appalling. The prisons are bursting at the seams. That's some real success, eh?

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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jul 24th 2007, 10:36 PM
As for whether or not literature can even be slotted as "Left" and still be good or if "good fiction is just good fiction" - well, the second may be true, although I, for instance, am not interested in the nice dilemnas of the rich no matter how well written.

But it is also true that the themes explored and how] they are explored can open a mind to looking at old structures in new ways, at conventional wisdoms with a fresh eye: good science fiction is particularly good at this. LeGuin, for instance, puts very human characters with very human reactions into a social order we've never seen explored with depth - "anarchism" (in quotes because in this book it's not quite what you probably think it is ) and that promotes thinking about the possible forms of human social organization in a whole new way.

Sinclair is not a particularly "great" writer as a writer, but "The Jungle" is a good read and should be read because it is such a vivid evocation of what life is like for most under un-regulated Capitalism. How could someone come away from Sinclair believing in Free-Marketeer-ism?

And IMHO, Heinlein is no more a progressive, or in any way "Left" than is Any Rand. Both, in different ways, seduce young, impressionable adolescents with the sex scenes. Those young, impressionable adolescents then conflate the underlying assumptions with the sex. Some never get past that, and thus, we have Libertarians for instance .
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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jul 24th 2007, 06:59 PM
at /

I quoted a portion of Dr. King’s famous address at Riverside Church almost 40 years ago:

“We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak….there is such a thing as being too late….Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity….Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’”

I used that quote in a letter I left with Conyers’ aides on Monday, in which I tried to express why my colleagues in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity feel it is URGENT to find some way to apply the Constitution to restrain a run-away Executive.

I don't think Ray McGovern was born yesterday. These are not normal times, and I am old enough to remember Kennedy's Presidency. All presidents, D and R, in my view, have committed grave abuses of their power at the least, unconstitutional violations of our civil liberties, and war crimes and crimes against humanity at the worst. The difference is, they have done, or tried to do so, secretly.

These madman openly proclaim what they are doing, and openly state that they piss on the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, International Law. They have all but proclaimed that miserable little psychopath occupying the WH "Supreme Leader."

I have no faith at all in Democrats doing the right thing unless forced to by an outcry from the citizenry. As far as I am concerned they are the Party allowed to win when the powers that be need to quiet the rabble by throwing them a few more scraps and bones. I only support and work for Democrats - which I do, nearly year 'round, one way or another - because I believe in democracy and non-violence and have faith in the American people "getting it" eventually. We are only slow, I think, because we are so constantly mis-and under-informed.

But even I, with my low expectations of those in office, find myself bewildered these past six years and even now by the feeble response of the "opposition" Party. Perhaps there is a law or rule that prohibited Conyers et al from renting a hotel room with room for the Press in which to hold their hearings? If not, why didn't they?

I've admired Conyers, without investing him in sainthood, but I am disappointed now.

These are not normal times, Congressman Conyers. We either show that we will make every attempt to protect the Constitution, the separation of powers, the rule of Law, or we lose them. Does anyone think that the next President, of whatever Party, will not pick and choose his/her "precedents" for Executive power if we don't? The temptation would be too much for any but a saint.

Others on this board have made the case for impeachment, I don't think that I have to reiterate it, but all too many seem to assume that there is no danger - even with no impeachment - as long as the next President is a D. I don't think history bears out the inevitability of such a prediction. Quite the opposite.

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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Jul 11th 2007, 10:04 PM
is simply following the same course she has since her child died - without calculation, simply plowing on doing what seems to her to be the right thing to do at any given time.

I don't think she is particularly sophisticated about it, or - for goddesss sake, how cruel people are - "attention mongering" or whatever vile phrase I've seen used against her.

I think she's an ordinary person who's life was so blasted by loss that it simply became imperative to her to do what seemed right and logical, leaving inessentials by the wayside.

I could well be wrong, but if I am, I don't much care. Nor do I have to agree with her every action and word to see her as an inspiration. Because as a mother, when I think about what the loss of a child means Cindy's actions seem perfectly comprehensible to me. Would that more of us (I include myself) would do the same. To protect our own children and all the children of the world.
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...that absent near-magical technological break-throughs it is the very "American way of life" they all promise to preserve that is the root of the problem.

"Clean coal" and Ethanol are the Corporate "answers" because they promise to preserve the status quo while preserving Corporate profits.

from: /

...we in the Global North are continuing to consume way beyond the means of the earth to sustain itself, all the while telling the rest of humanity that with enough hard work, World Bank loans and inducements (complete repatriation of profits, lax labor and environmental laws) to Western corporations to invest in their countries, they too can join the global consumer paradise. We seem always to forget to mention that if Americans, at six percent of the world’s population, needs to consume about a quarter of its wealth and resources to maintain our standard of living, the idea of the rest of the world even approaching our levels of consumption, energy usage and exploitation of land, water, resources and people would mean the end of civilization, if not most life on the planet, in a very short period of time...

...The simple but profoundly depressing fact is that the entire world economic and political system as it exists today is based around practices that are destroying the planet slowly but surely. The corporations, political elites and others who benefit from the existing system are ...will do whatever is necessary — lie, cheat, steal, oppress, exploit, murder and wage war — to maintain control of a world economy that sees half the world living on $2 per day or less while inequality and poverty increase in line with the amount of CO2 in the air, in order to continue to reap their huge salaries and bonuses and maintain their stranglehold on power.

Which of them will tell us that? Hillary? In the language here, BWWWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Right.
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Posted by bread_and_roses in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Jun 30th 2007, 09:21 PM
enforced. There will be no solution to this until we decide to strictly enforce licensing laws, require licensing cats - yes, I know, that strikes horror into many hearts but millions of cats suffer from being dumped, or born feral, or neglected - make licensing of un-neutered animals VERY expensive, licensing of neutered animals expensive enough to make people think twice about getting an animal in a society where people actually are FINED for having one if not neutered or licensed (I know - there are responsible low-income people who could not then afford pets. Well, then, THAT I say is an appropriate use of charity, not the endless $$ that are donated to shelters and rescues that in the end, do not dent the 4-6 MIllION euthanized dogs/cats every YEAR - the number I've read repeatedly.)

The AKC must somehow be required to do something to prevent "Puppy-Mill" puppies from getting "papers" - like requiring inspection of any premise before "papers" are issued to a puppy born there (I'm quite sure voluteers could be found for that job, for instance) and we must put the money from high licensing fees into animal control officers. And more if more is needed. Feral and neglected and abused animals are a hazard to humans and wildlife, besides suffering cruelly in a way that a civilized society should not tolerate.

I love both dogs and cats, have two rescued cats, used to have two rescued dogs. We live in a semi-rural area, and now we don't have dogs, the feral cats have appeared. I am feeding two now, in addition to our two. I would do more for them, but they are too fearful to get near. We don't live in the wilds anymore. We cannot continue to consider pet ownership some kind of inalienable right. Four to Six MILLION animals destroyed in shelters every year - or however many it is, that's just the number I've read repeatedly - it is too many, a social burden, an unbearable weight of cruelty, and it doesn't have to happen.
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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Jun 30th 2007, 06:00 AM
the Congressional Dems have showed little but willingness to go along to get along with the crimes of this mal-administration (with of course a few brave, easily drowned out without back-up exceptions like Conyers et al). They showed thieir cowardice again when they didn't make an unending din about the mostly black voters in Ohio having to stand in lines for hours.

They put "impeachment off the table" in the face of what are plainly "high crimes and misdeameanors" or whatever the phrasing is. Now, they whine that they don't have the votes, as if the only criteria for doing the right thing is an iron-clad assurance of victory.

When the Rs were in the majority we heard again and again how they held secret caucauses, put Bills out without ever letting a Dem see them, etc. Somehow, the other day, on NPR, I heard a story about a Bill on the Floor and SOMEHOW the minority Rs were able to force reading the Bill's amendments on the Floor. Somehow, those minority Rs seem to have a lot more power in Congress than did the Ds. (Not that it is right or democratic to dis-allow other Representatives opportunity to consider legislation, or that the Ds should do it, but the Rs clearly seem to be able to use procedure to their advantage as a minority. Even if the D majority leaders do not (as they shouldn't) engage in clearly undemocratic obstructionism and so allow procedure to be used, how many times did the Ds vote "no" as a block with each one giving the reason on record that they had not been allowed to read the Bill? There are things that can be done that are dramatic enough to get Press, that done often enough will enable the public - which CANNOT be expected to follow the arcane rules and justifiably wants RESULTS or a clear reason why they are not getting results - will understand.

And before anyone tells me how naive I am, let me forstall you. I have worked in every election - endless hours - to help elect Ds that I thought were only marginally better than their R opponents. I'll be doing the same in local elections this year. Work for '08 starts the day after the '07 election. I usually read all the posts before I respond, but can't today because I am off to a Breakfast for a Dem. *And I'm not even a registered D.

But my answer to your question is no, no again, and no again.

*added on edit

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Posted by bread_and_roses in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jun 19th 2007, 09:28 PM
Believe me. I worked in this field for more than twenty years. In NY, one of the more "generous" States for Welfare, a single mom with one child on total welfare would have to get by with around $500 month - for rent, utilities, all non-food household products, all school expenses, all clothing and shoes. Forget any recreation, gifts, etc. Forget even books, unless Mom had bus money to go to the Library - which she didn't. And contrary to popular belief, the amount added to the grant per child did not come anywhere near the expenses for an additional child. Yes, if someone received the max of EVERY POSSIBLE BENEFIT - most importantly subsidized housing - it was bearable, barely. However, Section 8 only serves a fraction of those eligible - even the waiting list around here - and I'm sure in other parts of the Country - would be closed for years. It's been a while now, so I can't give exact figures, but the families that I worked with generally had welfare grants that added up to approx half the Federal Poverty Level for the # in the household - and the PL, remember, is defined as the absolute minimum required to sustain rent and a (not very nutritious) diet. And is so dated in its' formulation that it doesn't even amount to that.

Most people on welfare always cycled on and off - finding a low-wage job, working a while, losing it because of a sick child, a Day Care problem, a health problem of their own, getting fired because the bus ran late. Very few people ever want to be on welfare. Going down to "the welfare" to beg for emergency money to keep your apartment, or keep the electric on, or to "re-certify" for your paltry subsidy is a humiliating experience. Having accompanied many on such trips, I can attest to the contemptuous treatment they received all too often - and that with a "professional" at their side as an advocate. It was worse without one. (I have no intent to bash welfare workers here - they are not very well paid for demanding and difficult work and carry impossible case-loads. The culture of the "welfare" often encourages demeaning and contemptuous treatment of clients. All of this became noticeably worse after welfare 'reform.")

However, prior to welfare "reform" a single parent could retain benefits while going to a two-year college, meaning that people could get education/training for jobs in health care, for instance, that at least gave them a shot at earning a sustaining wage. Now, the regulations make this just about impossible - I would say impossible, but there is always a brave and exceptional soul who somehow makes it work, usually at enormous sacrifice for both him/herself and the child. However, policy determined by the occasional exception leads to ridiculous stances such as because one exceptionally gifted basketball player makes it out of the inner city then anyone can do it if they just try. Not with a sickly child you can't. Not if the bus lines take you four hours a day to get to and from anywhere you can't.

The rhetoric that pushed the demand for welfare "reform" was Right-wing spin. People on welfare who did not have children under five (when I started, now I believe it is three months) have always had to seek work and/or to perform "work relief" (non-waged labor) to keep their benefits. Most of the people on "work relief" were single men (occasionally single women) who were long-term beneficiaries. And most of them, if you looked into it, had some variant of mental illness, or a partially disabling physical condition, or a combination of both.

If you want to know what welfare "reform" has done, look up the stats on homeless families - not single adults, but parents with children, many of them, believe it or not, working. And yes, look at the poverty levels in this Country - particularly child poverty rates and infant mortality, which rival some third world Countries, if I remember aright.

The people who dropped "off the roles" were rarely followed up. When a phone was disconnected, they disappeared.

Usually, when I talk about this people say, "well, the answer is education for good jobs." First, welfare "reform" has made that virtually impossible, and second, let me ask this:

Assume we can magically not only train/educate every person who is or could/should be on welfare but fix whatever ails them to make them job ready and hirable. Where are these good jobs for all of them?

This fixation on welfare "reform" simply ignores the reality of not only people who's life history has made them virtually unemployable but that we don't have the jobs. And that the forces of Cheap Labor want a disposable Labor pool.

Even Nixon talked about the possibility of a guaranteed National Income. How far we have come. The poor are more invisible, more demeaned, more demonetized than ever. Our inner cities decline ever further into Third World war zones, isolated, decrepit, with no jobs anywhere near or on a bus line, schools without books or enough teachers, violent streets, and populations either numbed or killing each other as a result of the combination of neglect and the results of our insane "war on drugs." These are our "blue" bastions - and what did the Clinton years give them? More insane "war on drugs" and welfare "reform." Someday these cities will explode again, I think, and people will wonder why.

Not that life for the rural poor is better. The worst conditions I've ever seen people live in were among the rural poor. And while they were less likely to be shot on the road in front of the house, what often went on in the house was as awful and dangerous, particularly for women, and most particularly for children. Ever wonder why there is such a thriving trade in meth in rural Counties? There's no jobs there, either, except in the prisons we build out there.

We have ignored the poor since Reagan, and that includes the Democrats, and most especially includes Clinton. We'll pay the piper someday, unless they manage to lock everyone up, which they are in a fair way to accomplishing with the insane "drug war." Or maybe people can take turns - this week you're the prisoner, next week you're the guard - we don't offer them anything much else, out here in the real world.
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