Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Daily Bread and Banana Bread

This is the banana bread that our 2 boys have been raised on.  It's easy to make and always turns out moist and rich.  My wife got this recipe from M.Z. who worked in the accounting department of the Bonanza stores headquarters about 25 years ago.  Bonanza was bought out and then bankrupted like so many other firms in the 80's and 90's.  But the great Banana Bread recipe lives on creating wonderful odors in our house while baking.
Banana Bread
1 cube of room temperature butter, ( or 1/2 cup shortening)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 to 3/4 cups chopped nuts (optional)

Mash banana's and then add the sugar, butter, and eggs.  Mix very well, then slowly add your 2 cups of flour.  Once well mixed add the baking soda and walnuts, now just mix the batter enough to evenly distribute the soda and nuts.  Grease a 9x5 pan with the wrapper from the butter or mist with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into the pan and cook at 350 for 60 minutes or until butter knife inserted into center of loaf comes clean.  The recipe calls for 60 minutes, but we always end up cooking it more, 70 or 75 minutes.  The bread will let you know it's done, by showing an almost clean knife after insertion. 

The Daily Bread

By accident I purchased King Arthur's whole wheat flour instead of unbleached white flour which is our daily bread staple.  This loaf is half white unbleached flour and half King Arthur's whole wheat flour, it was very tasty and had a nice sponge. 

President Obama asks citizens to stand with him and demand Congress take action on jobs

Barack Obama addressing a joint session of Con...Image via Wikipedia

From Barack Obama
Today I asked for a joint session of Congress where I will lay out a clear plan to get Americans back to work. Next week, I will deliver the details of the plan and call on lawmakers to pass it.  Whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them.  But both you and I can pressure them to do the right thing. We can send the message that the American people are playing by the rules and meeting their responsibilities—and it's time for our leaders in Congress to meet theirs.  And we must hold them accountable if they don't.
So I'm asking you to stand with me in calling on Congress to step up and take action on jobs.  No matter how things go in the weeks and months ahead, this will be an important challenge for our organization.  It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on.  I know that you're frustrated by that. I am, too.
That's why I'm putting forward a set of bipartisan proposals to help grow the economy and create jobs—that means strengthening our small businesses, giving needed breaks to middle-class families, while taking responsible steps to bring down our deficit.  I'm asking lawmakers to look past short-term politics and take action on that plan. But we've got to do this together.  I will deliver this message to Congress next week, but I'm asking you to stand alongside me today.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

US Judge grants injunction against Texas Sonogram Law

Absolutely, great news from the Center for Reproductive Rights.  
When anti-choice Texas legislators passed a law earlier this year inserting themselves between doctors and women seeking to end their pregnancies, we sprang into action—and so did you.

We filed a lawsuit to block the law, you responded with an overwhelming outpouring of support—and today we scored an important early victory.

Finding that Texas’s intrusive ultrasound law violates the First Amendment and certifying our case as a class action, a federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing significant parts of the law until the case is resolved.

That means doctors won’t face the threat of losing their medical licenses if they do not show women seeking abortions their ultrasound images—as the law requires, even if the women say no. Doctors cannot be forced to describe the sonograms, or to make women listen to the fetal heartbeat over their objections.

The ruling makes clear what we have been saying all along—this law makes doctors puppets in the hands of an overreaching legislature seeking to undermine women’s reproductive rights by any means available.

As the judge himself writes, the law “compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen.”

We will not allow these lawmakers to turn back the clock on reproductive rights in Texas—and, with this lawsuit, we’re sending a message to anti-choice politicians everywhere that we will fight relentlessly to beat back their attacks.

We need you to keep standing with us—through this case, and in all our efforts to advance the fundamental reproductive rights of women across the U.S. and around the world.

Meantime, I hope you will join me in celebrating this crucial victory.
The Center For Reproductive Rights homepage
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Al Jazeera English

At the beginning of the Arab spring, I was glued to Al Jazeera.  Watching it live on my laptop.  You can watch Al Jazeera live online here.  Often, I was very frustrated with the lack of adequate US media coverage of middle east events.  I called my satellite company which was direct TV, no one there had heard of Al Jazeera.  I could understand a small cable company not knowing what Al Jazeera was but a satellite company? 
I called several times even talking to a supposed vice-president once.  They just were'nt interested.  Strangely, there is only one small cable company in the midwest that carries Al Jazeera.   I was happy to see this petition to make Comcast carry Al Jazeera but I'm not optimistic.  Unfortunately, they all carry Fox. 

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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Republican Jobs Blueprint, Part 2

The full (8 pages of text) inadequate, incomplete, incompetent and insane Republican Jobs Blueprint here

Reading the republican "jobs" plan makes my head hurt.  It is filled with falsehoods, inaccuracies and irrelevant material. 
Fix the Tax Code to Help Job Creators
America’s tax code has grown too complicated and cumbersome, and it is
fundamentally unfair. It is filled with loopholes and giveaways. Congress should eliminate the special interest tax breaks that litter the code and reduce the overall tax rate to no more than 25% for businesses and individuals including small business owners. This would make the tax code flatter, fairer, and simpler. Common sense changes to the tax code will ensure that everyone pays their fair share, lessen the burden on families, generate economic expansion, and create jobs by making America more competitive.
Oh Yes, US corporations are at a huge competitive disadvantage worldwide per their onerous tax rates (Click to Enlarge)

It takes unmitigated gall to to state that: " Congress should eliminate the special interest tax breaks that litter the code"  after republicans voted unanimously in March and May to keep oil subsidies for the petroleum industry costing this country billions in lost revenue.  The same republicans who voted to eliminate medicare and replace it with an inadequate voucher system, believe that the most profitable companies in all of history need tax payer assistance. 
"At a combined state and federal rate of just over 39%, the U.S. currently has the second-highest corporate tax rate among the developed nations of the world (those in the OECD). The U.S. federal rate of 35% is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the average of our competitors"
US corporations actual tax rate as share of GDP

 The average US corporate tax rate is 25%, according to the IRS as reported in the WSJ.
"The 25.3% effective tax rate was calculated by comparing the actual taxes paid by companies, including foreign taxes on U.S. profits, to the U.S. book income."
In addition many companies pay zero taxes, including large corporations like GE, Exxon-Mobile, Bank of America.  See Bernie Sander's List of Corporate Freeloaders.  If tax rates were creating competitive problems for US corporations they would not be recording their largest profits ever.  So the republican blueprint for jobs is reduce corporations effective tax rate to the rate it is currently paying? 
Nothing in this section of the republican jobs plan holds up to even a cursory inspection.  US corporations are doing very well, they are not overtaxed.  Finally, the Republican Jobs Blueprint, devotes a  section to corporate profits stored offshore.  Already, congressional republicans are urging another tax holiday, so corporations can bring their foreign profits home at a vastly reduced tax rate.  At least the blueprint doesn't commit the lie many republicans in congress are promoting; that bringing the foreign profits back to US soil at a reduced tax rate will create jobs.  We already tried this in 2004 and the result was huge CEO bonuses and shareholder profits.  There is a plethora of evidence that the 2004 overseas tax holiday created no discernible increase in jobs growth.  So the Republican Jobs Blueprint Part 2 entails: reducing the corporate tax rate to the rate it is currently paying.  The republicans talk about eliminating tax loopholes but vote to keep tax loopholes in place.   They also feel that a corporate overseas tax holiday will bring money back to the US but will not create jobs.  Did the republicans realize that the title of this blueprint is JOBS?

Republican job blueprint grade, Part 2:

Bill Maher had this to say about the republicans:
And finally, New Rule. If you can look at a crime where everything points to one answer and not see it, you're a dumbass. And if you can look at the deficit and not see that the problem is that the rich stopped paying taxes, you're a Republican. ....

Now here's Obama's thinking, and it's a little counter-intuitive, but try to follow it. When Clinton was President, the rich paid a little more taxes, and the government had money. Then Bush cut all those taxes, and now we don't. I know it's hard to grasp, it involves subtracting. 
When did the business community in America become so sensitive that we have to treat them like some sort of rare exotic animal? Don't startle them, or they'll fly away. We need to soothe them, so they can nest here and lay their magic eggs full of jobs. Which never hatch, by the way.

Bush said his tax cuts for the rich would create jobs, they didn't. We're now being told if multinational corporations bring home their current overseas profits of $1.4 trillion, they'll only be taxed 5% on it, because we're told it will create jobs. It won't, just like it didn't the last time we tried it in 2004. Companies took the savings, and paid it out to themselves in dividends.
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I get mail from the Center for Reproductive Rights

Any day now, we expect a ruling in our legal battle to keep Texas lawmakers from barging in between women and their doctors.

Meantime, we’re having fun watching our supporters call out the outrageousness of the lawmakers’ actions in our cartoon caption contest.
There’s still time for you to get in on the action—VOTE NOW for your favorite captions!
The law we’re fighting is no laughing matter.

Texas legislators and Gov. Rick Perry seek to literally put words in doctor’s mouths by forcing them to describe the sonograms of all women seeking abortions—even when the women say NO.

We’ve asked a federal judge to block the law and keep government out of women’s private medical decisions—but we wanted to offer our supporters a chance to give these anti-choice lawmakers a taste of their own medicine.
You'll have to click the link to view the funny captions and vote for the best ones. 
There’s still time for you to get in on the action—VOTE NOW for your favorite captions!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stop the Wall Street settlement, with immunity from prosecution for mortgage fraud

In a very discouraging bit of news, it was announced today that 45.6 billion of the TARP funds that were suppose to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure only 2 billion had been spent.  Instead of renewing efforts to help homeowners, they are going to use the balance of the funds to pay down the national debt. In the first half of this year one million foreclosure were filed.  Wall Street makes money on every foreclosed home, average citizens lose almost everything in a foreclosure.  The government has done almost nothing to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.  The government provided trillions to save Wall Street banks but they can't even spend 45 billion to save the average American's home.  The republicans successfully fought a provision that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to adjust mortgage payments for homes nearing foreclosure.  But if you have a vacation home or a second or third home, bankruptcy judges can help you out.  It's just the average citizen that the courts are legally bound to NOT help.   If your tired of Wall Street getting away with "financial murder", sign this petition from CREDO.
From Credo:
The notorious robo-signing scandal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wrongdoing by the mortgage industry. And New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is one of a handful of state attorneys general standing up to make sure the Wall Street crooks who illegally cheated millions of people don't get a free pass.
But the Obama administration and federal banking regulators are pressuring Attorney General Schneiderman to back down and accept a settlement with the major mortgage firms that would impose no criminal penalties for breaking the law.
As the Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman has a unique opportunity and a unique obligation to stand up for the victims of unscrupulous Wall Street firms. And the Obama administration and federal regulators should stop trying to strong-arm him. 
Through congressional hearings and investigative reporting, we know of numerous stories of big financial firms engaging in shady mortgage practices, many of which seem on their face to violate various laws and regulations.
Yet the New York Times reported that Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and various officials in the Department of Justice are pressuring Attorney General Schneiderman to accept a settlement before any significant investigation into these violations take place.
And what's particularly galling is that the proposed settlement amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist to the people who profited massively from driving our economy off a cliff.
In exchange for fines and industry reforms (most of which arguably simply restate duties the banks already have), nobody goes to jail.
If we cave on the settlement, we send the message to giant financial firms that it's okay to rip off millions of people and make obscene amounts of money doing so. Civil penalties will simply be part of the cost doing business, the law be damned. 
It's incompatible with the health of our democracy to allow wealthy and powerful people off the hook after they have caused massive and widespread suffering. But at least one federal regulator seems to think Attorney General Schneiderman has a positive duty to do so.
Kathryn Wylde who sits on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and whose job it is to explicitly represent the public, unbelievably told the New York Times without any hint of shame that she told Attorney General Schneiderman:
"It is of concern to the industry that instead of trying to facilitate resolving these issues, you seem to be throwing a wrench into it. Wall Street is our Main Street — love 'em or hate 'em. They are important and we have to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them unless they are doing something indefensible."
This is wrong on so many levels, it's hard to articulate.
Fortunately, Attorney General Schneiderman isn't buying it. But now that he's being attacked for taking a stand, he deserves our support.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

My apology to Eric Cantor

Representative Eric Cantor of VirginiaImage via Wikipedia

*Correction and Apology to Eric Cantor*

After hearing Eric Cantor's remarks yesterday in his district after the 5.8 earthquake I felt he was willing to find money for his own district even though he wasn't willing to find money without cuts for Joplin.  Today, Eric Cantor made it perfectly clear that there will be no help for the people of his district without budget cuts someplace else.  His spokesperson,  Laena Fallon made this statement:
"We aren't going to speculate on damage before it happens, period. But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts."
I apologize to Eric Cantor for calling him a hypocrite.  Clearly, Eric Cantor is as heartless and uncaring about the people in his own district as he is of the people of Joplin, Mo.

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400,000 Americans stand with Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet created quite the stir with his "Stop Coddling the super-rich" Op-Ed in the Washington Post.  MoveOn sponsored a petition to Congress urging them to follow Warren Buffet's advice.  So far over 400,000 people have signed this petition.  If you haven't already, sign it here:
Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...Image via Wikipedia
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Ask the 76 democrats who endorsed the AT&T, T-Mobile merger to rescind their endorsement

76 democrats signed a letter endorsing the AT&T and T-Mobile merger (link to the list with this year and career contributions from AT&T).  Only 5 of those democrats had not received funding from AT&T.  Just what we need less competition from wireless companies.   During the 5.8 earthquake this week on the east coast almost all cellphone service was unavailable, we need expanded wireless coverage, not consolidated wireless coverage.

In June, Congressman G.K. Butterfield of South Carolina worked with Congressman Gene Green of Texas to organize Democratic support for AT&T's merger with T-Mobile. The resulting letter to the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice — the two federal agencies responsible for approving or rejecting the acquisition — argues that the merger would benefit the public for two reasons: 1) it would enable AT&T to expand high-speed wireless Internet to low-income and rural customers, and 2) the required build-out would result in new jobs.4
Thanks to a letter filed by AT&T's attorneys that contained confidential information, we now know with certainty that AT&T could easily upgrade its wireless networks without buying T-Mobile — it has simply chosen not to do so.
The letter pegs the price of covering 97% of Americans with advanced 4G LTE wireless service at $3.8 billion, less than one tenth the cost of the $39 billion merger.5

And as we've stated before, the merger is likely to be bad for consumers. The merger wouldn't just allow AT&T to raise prices on its customers — every wireless carrier would be subject to fewer competitive pressures to keep prices low.6 If that happens, more poor people, Black Americans, and Latinos — who disproportionately rely on wireless broadband to access the Internet — would be subject to higher prices and undue economic hardship just to get online. There are also major implications for Internet freedom. Without competition from other wireless carriers or effective regulation by the FCC, AT&T and Verizon — net neutrality opponents who would together control nearly 80% of the wireless market — would have an unacceptable level of control over what we can and can't access on the mobile web.7
Sign the letter to the 76 democratic senators to rescind their endorsement of this merger

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Don't Kill the American Dream

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sick of Paul Ryan and his plan to give tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and corporations by eliminating MediCare?

Paul Ryan and his medicare killing budget was the straw that broke the camels back and created this blog.  I would just as happily gone on blogless, if Rep. Paul Ryan had not wanted to fund even more tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and corporations by eliminating medicare and replacing it with an inadequate voucher system, leaving the elderly at the mercy of insurance companies.  Paul Ryan claimed he could save billions in his budget by eliminating loopholes in the tax code.  Turns out Mr. Paul Ryan was writing legislation providing tax loopholes for his corporate donors. 

The full story on Paul Ryan writing tax break bills for his corporate donors

But now there is an alternative to reading about Paul Ryan's worthless budget every day.  America meet Rob Zerban democrat from Wisconsin running against Paul Ryan.  Here is his campaign video and a link to his website.
Rob Zerban for Congress,

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Eric Cantor (R-V) Hypocrite(H)

 The 5.8 earthquake that rocked the northeastern part of the country this week was centered on Eric Cantor's district.  Fortunately, no fatalities occurred and most damage was minor.  Eric Cantor had this to say on inspecting the damage in his district:
“Obviously the problem is most people in Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance. That is going to be a hardship. If there needs to be money from the federal government, we’ll find the money.”
Contrast this can do attitude with this Cantor "can't" quote after the total devastation and the over 155 fatalities that occurred in Joplin, Mo. this spring due to an F5 tornado:  
Cantor stated “if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.” The term “pay-fors” means either tax increases or spending cuts, and given the fact that the Republican leadership has repeatedly stated they will not support raising taxes, that leaves only the cutting option.
Translated this means, if enough people ask for money, we cut money from some other programs then we can help the people of Mo. but that's the only way we'll help.  This is the same congressperson that voted for two wars on the credit card but won't do anything to help the people of  Joplin, Mo. without cuts someplace else.  But when it's his district: "We'll find the money."  Are the people of Virginia happy to be represented in Congress by an individual concerned only with his own ideology and reelection prospects rather than the well being of our entire nation?   Eric Cantor also tried to cut money for the USGS ( the seismologists), NOAA (hurricane monitoring and warnings) and the national weather service because, don't you know, Government is the problem.
*Update 8/25/11, Correction and Apology to Eric Cantor*

After hearing Eric Cantor's remarks yesterday I felt he was willing to find money for his own district even though he wasn't willing to find money without cuts for Joplin.  Today, Eric Cantor made it perfectly clear that there will be no help for the people of his district without budget cuts someplace else.  His spokesperson made this statement:
"We aren't going to speculate on damage before it happens, period," his spokesperson Laena Fallon emails. "But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts."
I apologize to Eric Cantor for calling him a hypocrite.  Clearly, Eric Cantor is as heartless and uncaring about the people in his district as he is of the people of Joplin, Mo.  

Sign Credo's petition telling Eric Cantor stop blocking disaster relief funds
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Somalia Drought

Texting OXFAM to 25383 will donate $10.00 dollars to Somalia relief efforts.  
OXFAM America website

Rick Perry on freedom, except when he legislates what women hear and doctors say

PERRY: Listen, America’s gone a long way from the standpoint of civil rights and thank God we have. I mean we’ve gone from a country that made great strides in issues of civil rights. I think we all can be proud of that. And as we go forward, America needs to be about freedom. It needs to be about freedom from overtaxation, freedom from over-litigation, freedom from over-regulation. And Americans regardless of what their cultural or ethnic background is they need to know that they can come to America and you got a chance to have any dream come true because the economic climate is gonna be improved.
"America needs to be about freedom... freedom from over-regulation" says Rick Perry?  Governor Rick Perry has signed these laws into effect in his state of Texas restricting the freedom of women and over-regulating the medical care for women, even proscribing what women should hear and what doctors should say.    
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • mandatory sonograms before abortions, including either listening to the fetal heartbeat, viewing the sonogram image or listening to the doctor verbally describe the images on the sonogram.  
  • waiting period of 24 hours between a sonogram and an abortion
During the sonogram bill debate Texas Democratic state Representative Carol Alvarado wielded a trans-vaginal probe used for sonograms early in pregnancy and said: "This is government intrusion at its best,''   If this is an example of the Governors  "freedom" and "freedom from regulation" explain again how your going to help Americans, Governor?  Perhaps, he was referring to freedoms for corporations and men only.   
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Corporations are People?

"It might be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human John Paul Stevens, U.S. Supreme Court justice.Image via Wikipediabeings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established." Justice John Paul Stevens in dissent to Citizens United
He continued referring to the framers of the US Constitution:
"The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare. Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans they had in mind."

The following Republican presidential candidates think corporations are people: Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.  These republican presidential candidates will feel right at home and have much in common with our Supreme Court Justice's Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Roberts, who also think corporations are people.  You could say they were almost of one mind, one mind, that is evenly divided between 10 people. a coalition that advocates amending the Constitution to end the doctrine of corporate Personhood   
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Our family just got back from a wonderful vacation on the Oregon coast.  Here's a picture of me wearing my "made in the USA" Obama t-shirt, and yes it has the birth certificate on the back of the shirt. Oregon has countless sandy and rocky beaches all worth visiting.  We had a great time especially exploring the tide pools.
We also re-visited the wonderful Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon.   The last time we were there, Keiko the killer whale was at the aquarium.  The aquarium has improved vastly over the years. Great effort has been extended in creating a natural environment for the fish and the human visitors. 
 We also were amazed at these rose hips found growing next to a beach near Lincoln City.  I've seen countless rose hips, but never any this large.  They were almost the size of crab apples.
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Eric Cantor and his Republican cronies are the only obstacle to economic growth in Washington DC

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia                                  Image via Wikipedia
Eric Cantor wrote an amusing editorial in the Washington Post the other day titled: "Removing the obstacles to economic growth".    He accuses the president of starting class warfare and also says: "In fact, the Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda has fueled economic uncertainty and sent the message from the administration that “we want to make it harder to create jobs."" This collection of lies was so egregious that I'm posting Brad Woodhouse, DNC Communications Director full response to the biggest obstacle to America's Economic growth: Eric Cantor.
Here are the facts that refute Cantor’s work of fiction:
Claim: [The] Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda has fueled economic uncertainty and sent the message from the administration that “we want to make it harder to create jobs.
Reality: The idea thatPresident Obama opposes creating jobs is nonsense not worth the paper it’s printed on.
It is, however, fitting that on the same day Cantor lashes out at the President on taxes, Republicans have come out against extending the payroll tax cut, a position that would lead to higher taxes for millions of working families. This, despite their continued support of Bush tax cuts for the rich.
The truth is, President Obama’s so-called “anti-business” policies have led to record corporate profits, and today individual taxes remain at their lowest levels since 1950.
The “uncertainty” argument is even more foolish considering that Republicans have threatened to shut down the government and let the nation default on its obligations—all in the past nine months. The GOP has institutionalized brinkmanship, and their intransigence and reckless tactics have stroked economic uncertainty.
Claim: There is no other conclusion for policies such as the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including the “Transport Rule,” which could eliminate thousands of jobs.
Reality: Despite Republicans’ attempt to use the EPA as a political football, Americans like clean air and clean water. The “Transport Rule” will prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 15,000 hospital and emergency department visits, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million days when people would have missed work or school.
Claim: We had to drag [President Obama] to the table to make even the modest spending cuts that Standard & Poor’s says don’t go far enough.
Reality: S&P has made it clear that the agency downgraded U.S. credit rating because of Republicans’ "political brinkmanship" as well as “default skeptics” within the GOP. S&P Senior Director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that ‘people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default.
It’s also worth pointing out that Republican Speaker Boehner walked out of debt ceiling negotiations, not President Obama.
Claim: Republicans passed a budget this spring, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, [which] would address our challenges head-on by putting in place common-sense reforms to manage our debt over the short and long term.
Reality: The Ryan Republican budget wouldn’t decrease the deficit in the short-term, growing public debt from $10 trillion in 2011 to $16 trillion in 2012. Worse, in the long-term, his plan would end Medicare as we know it.  
Claim: For the past few years, investors, families and businesses small and large have felt the threat of higher taxes, increased regulations and government expansion.
Reality: President Obama has cut taxes for small business at least 17 times, launched the National Export Initiative to expand markets, created Startup America to connect small businesses with resources and knowledge, and the SBA has issued loans to more than 113,000 small businesses.
Additionally, President Obama has decreased government spending as a share of GDP from 25 percent to 23.6 percent (2012 estimate). Under President Bush (with Eric Cantor’s support), spending increased from 18.2 percent of GDP to 25 percent. 
Earlier this month, we saw a set of arguments just like this from Speaker Boehner. If anything, his statement on August 6th was even more nakedly partisan. It’s becoming clear that the GOP strategy is to repeat the same false claims until people accept them as fact. We can’t let that happen.
 Not only is Cantor an obstructionist, he's a liar. 
From the Other 98%:
Are you as angry as we are watching Congress and the new “Super Congress” threaten Social Security and Medicare, while they defend the Bush Tax Cuts for billionaires? Warren Buffet’s recent op-ed, asking for Congress to stop coddling the Super Rich, spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter this week for a reason: because people have had enough. Join our call to Congress today: it’s time to tax the rich, no exceptions, no apologies.
Sign the Petition here

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Monday, August 22, 2011

American Heroines arrested for standing against big oil

Two American heroines sent to jail for peacefully protesting the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands Pipeline.  I can't locate image credit for this great photo, pls. leave a comment if you know who took this.

 These two young ladies were among 150 others arrested in Washington D.C. in the past week for peacefully protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.  The park service deciding to get tough with the protestors is now sentencing them to jail time.  The grassroots fight against the Keystone XL pipeline gained substantial steam today with a NY Times editorial: "Tar Sands and the Carbon Numbers". Canada has a vast repository of tar sands which contain an oil with a much larger carbon footprint.  To extract the oil, vast tracts of arboreal forests must be cut down, then the tar sands must be steam heated to release the oil.  Not only does the tar sand oil significantly add to global climate change, it also means the loss of a valuable carbon sink through the loss of the forest lands.  Finally, they want to build a pipeline carrying this crude slurry from Canada to refineries in Texas.  Who feels comfortable with an oil company running a pipeline carrying a noxious crude slurry (diluted bitumen) through the heartland of this country?  Toxic chemicals are released throughout the refining process, leaving compromised watersheds wherever the tar sands have been extracted or refined.  This pipeline is the wrong direction for our country, oil is yesterday, we need green energy.  If we are going to build infrastructure, lets do it for the future.  We can build solar plants in Arizona or windmills almost anywhere and upgrade our electrical grid throughout the country to carry this free renewable resource.  This is a much better use of our dwindling resources.
Sign Credo's petition to stop the Tar Sands  Over 160,000 people have signed
Sign the petition to President Obama to stop the tar sands pipeline
Sign up to join the sit-ins to protest the Keystone XL pipeline

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Listen to the people, No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

 Bruce Bartlett recently put up a chart showing results from 23 recent polls. By a 2 to 1 very clear majority the American population want to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Number of republicans in congress who want to raise taxes on the wealthy= 0.  By a 2 to 1 majority Americans don't want cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.  The number of republicans in congress who don't want cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid=0.  If republicans were part of representative democracy at least some republicans would agree with the majority of voters.  Since no republicans agree with the majority of Americans it clearly means they do not represent the American public.  Republicans represent the top 1% of the population with 80% of this country's wealth.  Republicans don't represent the people unless they are very very wealthy people.  
In poll after poll, the American people have made their opinion clear: We don't want cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits. But Washington has put these very programs we hold dear on the table all year.

Join me in signing this petition telling Washington politicians to back off our safety net.
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Depression Era Soup Line Protest at Reicherts Mercer Island Office: a success

Photo by Chad Coleman Mercer Island Reporter
The "where are the jobs" protest at Rep. Dave Reicherts office on August 18, drew a crowd of 200 and also was excellently covered by the Mercer Island Reporter., Working Washington, Service Employees International Union (SEIU),  Rebuild the Dream, Center for Community Change and FUSE Washington were among the participants and organizers. The turnout for this event was more than double the last one held on the 10th of august.  We need to keep this up until Washington creates a jobs bill.  The "leaders" in DC are on vacation, in 5 minutes they could have tripled the funding for AmeriCorps for literally pennies.  The infrastructure is there and AmeriCorps could start hiring people immediately.  But they have done nothing.  
Here is a video from Working Washington covering the protest

The full story and lots of pictures from the Mercer Island Reporter
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Bernie Sanders simply and clearly outlines three things to fix America

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont                 Image via Wikipedia

First, we must rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.  That means repairing our roads, bridges, highways, dams, culverts, sewers, clean water systems, subways, schools, public transportation and affordable housing.  When we do that we not only create millions of good paying jobs, but we also make the entire country more productive and competitive in the global economy.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded America's roads, public transit and aviation with a “D.”   They say that we must invest over $2.2 trillion over the next five years simply to get to a “passable” condition.   Today, the United States invests just 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Europe invests twice that amount.  China invests almost four times our rate – roughly 9% of their GDP annually.   On rail alone, the Chinese invested $186 billion from 2006 through 2009.  Within two years China will open 42 new high-speed rail lines with trains that can reach speeds of more than 210 miles per hour.   By 2020, China plans to add 26,000 additional miles of track for freight, 230,000 miles of new or improved roads and 97 new airports.  There is no question in my mind that if we hope to compete in the global economy, we must increase our investment in our transportation infrastructure. 

Second, we have got to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  When we do that, we break our dependence on Middle East oil, we cut greenhouse gas emissions, we decrease air pollution and we put millions of Americans to work building American made solar panels, building American made wind turbines, building American made heat pumps and weatherizing millions of American homes with energy efficient products and technologies - all made in America.  This is a win, win, win, win approach.

Third, we have got to fundamentally rewrite our trade policy laws so that American products, not jobs are our number one export.  Simply stated, our current trade policy of unfettered free trade has been a disaster for American workers and must be reformed.   Over the past thirty years, we have been told by the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama that unfettered free trade will increase jobs in America.  They have been proven wrong.  NAFTA has led to the loss of over one million American jobs.  Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China has led to the loss of over 2 million American jobs.

Over the last decade, over 50,000 manufacturing plants have been shut down in America and the number of manufacturing jobs we have is a fraction of what it used to be.  You know it as well as I do!  It is harder and harder to buy products MADE IN THE USA.  And mark my words, if the George W. Bush unfettered free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are signed into law by this President, even more American jobs will be lost.  I will be doing my best to fight against these job-killing free trade agreements and come up with a trade approach which is based on the principles of fair trade, not unfettered free trade.

Let me conclude by thanking all of you for what you do in fighting to make sure that government represents all the people, not just the wealthy and powerful.  These are very tough times for our country.  There’s no question about that.  But despair is not an option.  This fight is not just about what happens to our lives.  More importantly, it’s what happens to our kids and grandchildren.  For their sakes, we cannot give up the struggle.
Senator Sanders has a clear focus on our countries problems and also it's solutions.  Without the lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, oil, gas and coal companies and their paid republican lackey's everything Senator Sanders describes would be easily and effectively accomplished.  These are solutions for the present and  they also secure a future for our children; only republicans and lobbyists with unlimited sums of money prevent our country from moving forward. 

Letter to your congressperson demanding a stop the Korean free trade agreement

Letter to senate and congress stop the nafta style free trade agreement with Korea
STOP the NAFTA-style Korea trade deal!( a great resource here)
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I get mail from Verizon's chief communications officer

Thank you for your email to the CEO's office.

Verizon remains committed to working with the unions to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract.  Our intent is to secure a new contract that ensures Verizon employees will continue to receive competitive pay and benefit programs, while also providing a fair return to our shareholders. Our wireline business has declined significantly in the last few years and we need a new contract that reflects today’s economic and business realities, as well as the needs of all of our stakeholders.

Our goal is to keep Verizon strong now and in the future for our employees, customers and shareholders.

For the latest bargaining news and information, go to:

Peter Thonis
Chief Communications Officer
Verizon must think the public is stupid.  "Our wireline business has declined significantly in the last few years and we need a new contract that reflects today’s economic and business realities, as well as the needs of all of our stakeholders."  So Verizon's significant decline in wireline business gave their CEO a 4% increase in total compensation reaching 18.1 million dollars?  They awarded the CEO a 33% performance cash bonus, almost a million dollars additional from 3 million to 3.9 million dollars and now they expect middle class workers to take a cut in pay and benefits?  The middle class has been soaked, bleeded, pounded, brutalized and ripped off enough.  It's hard on the union members being on strike, but would you want to take a pay cut, after they gave their CEO a 4% raise to 18.1 million dollars for 1 years of work?  This just stinks.  Verizon just stinks.
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Republicans, holding onto the past and blocking our future

image from NOAA
Every red dot on this map is a record high daytime temperature, every yellowish dot is a record nighttime high temperature.  This map just represents the month of July.  So many records were set in the month of July that this map clearly shows the outline of the USA.  These high temperatures are very hard on the elderly and all those who cannot afford air conditioning.  It's sad that so many of our political leaders do not believe the climate data showing a warming trend on the earth.  We look to our leaders to lead, instead many of them have their heads bowed in conversations with imaginary deities while their ears are cocked toward oil and coal industries instead of reading the latest climate change papers.  Republicans true to  their coal, oil and gas palm liners have consistently fought, fuel efficient vehicles, clean air regulations and almost all green energy programs.  The republicans are heavily weighted against the future and want to hold onto the past.   If Henry Ford was trying to bring automobiles to the American public today, the republicans representing the horse and buggy industry would do everything in their power to make sure that those new fangled darn contraptions wouldn't see wide usage.  They would provide tax deductions for livery stables, farm subsidies to hay and oat growers, reduce taxation on all horse breeders, and similarly would place restrictions on the usage of automobiles.  Sound familiar?  Just stand near a republican, you can smell the horse manure.

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