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Why Americans Are So Angry

Posted by CarolWoehrer on Fri 29 of July, 2011 CDT 05:14:10 PM

"As House and Senate leaders fine-tuned rival deficit reduction plans, Congress is on a path to do exactly what the American people don’t want,  Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a Senate speech on Wednesday. The American people have consistently stated, in poll after poll, that they want the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and they want to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In a recent Washington Post poll, 72 percent said Americans earning more than $250,000 a year should pay more in taxes.  Congress is on track to give them the exact opposite: major cuts in the most important programs that the middle class needs and wants, and no sacrifice from the wealthy and the powerful."


 


Listen to Senator Sanders 13 minute Speech on the Deficit Plans.


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THE IDEOLOGY BEHIND REPUBLICANS' REFUSAL TO RAISE TAXES

Posted by CarolWoehrer on Tue 19 of July, 2011 CDT 03:06:44 AM

Citizens for Tax Justice and The Economist point out that U.S. tax revenues are at a historic low and are far less than other industrial countries.  The Republican determination not to agree to any revenue increase to reduce the U.S. deficit resembles a cult and sacred fixation wrote David Brooks and Richard Cohen in opinion pieces in the Washington Post on July 4th.  The extreme position of Republicans, such as author of the Republican Budget Paul Ryan, is based on the ideology of Ayn Rand, who regarded altruism as a basic evil and challenged the idea that a person's duty is to serve others.  Download a summary with weblinks to articles:

http://myaurora.org/aurorawiki/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=746


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Elizabeth Warren, Consumers' Best Friend in Washington, under Attack by Bankers and Republicans

Posted by CarolWoehrer on Sun 20 of March, 2011 CDT 06:56:25 PM

If protecting financial consumers — and helping the millions of Americans struggling to hold onto their homes — isn’t worth fighting for, then what is?  Joe Nocera of the New York Times notes that there isn’t anybody in Washington more fearless about standing up to the big banks than Elizabeth Warren.  "No wonder they don’t like her."

Nocera reported on a recent hearing on the oversight of the Consumer Protection Finance Agency by the House Financial Services Committee.  He explained, "The big banks loathe Ms. Warren, who has made a career out of pointing out all the ways they gouge financial consumers — and whose primary goal is to make such gouging more difficult. So, naturally, the Republicans loathe her too."  The big banks and their Republican allies have complained that Elizabeth Warren has started helping consumers before the Consumer Financial Protection Agency opens its doors in July by consulting with Attorneys General who are putting together a settlement proposal on how mortgage servicers must treat defaulting homeowners.  The agreement would include a requirement that they modify mortgages before they begin foreclosure.

Reporter Nocera observes that the Home page on the House Financial Services Committee’s Web site has been turned into a screed against Dodd Frank, the Wall Street Reform Bill passed by the Democratic House and Senate last session. The committee will try to starve agencies of the funds needed to enforce the regulations.

Thank goodness for Elizabeth Warren, the best advocate consumers have in Washington.  Read Nocera's article:  "An Advocate Who Scares Republicans."


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Judy Woodruff Interviews Senator Bernie Sanders on Obama's Budget

Posted by CarolWoehrer on Fri 18 of Feb., 2011 CST 10:53:07 AM


After cutting a deal with Republicans to extend massive tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, President Obama this week proposed a budget that would cut crucial programs for seniors and working families. "If he's worried about long-term stability, he should not have caved in to the Republicans," Bernie told Judy Woodruff in a NewsHour? interview on Wednesday. He also offered ideas on how to reduce deficits.



Watch the interview on PBS




 


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MN Chamber asks for feedback on the Governor's budget.

Posted by George Greene on Thu 17 of Feb., 2011 CST 12:53:13 PM

Here's what I sent to them:

It won't affect my business negatively -I don't make millions.

Over the years it has become increasingly apparent to me that the needs of big business and the needs of small business are far more opposed than in line. Unfortunately the MN and local Chambers, who could be a force for the needs of small business, hew to the US Chamber's consistent and exclusive support of big business and entrenched wealth over the needs of small business. For this reason I have never joined a local Chamber. Why would I want any part of my dues or even my mere presence to support an organization that directly undermines my interests?

The Chamber seems to believe that an unfettered free market is somehow always benevolent. You'd think the recent crashing of the economy by the very people who believe such nonsense would have put that notion to bed! The effects of that economic debacle have hurt my business far more than the imagined burden of taxes the Chamber rails so strongly against. Trickle down is exactly the opposite of what, in fact, actually happened. It was all wrong -yet the chamber still lives in this tragically destructive fantasy world. The Chamber continually supports positions that concentrate more and more of this nation's wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people -no matter what the cost to our country or to small business.

It affects small businesses directly when the very infrastructure that made America great is savagely attacked by the Chamber. None of these so called titans of industry is a self made man -they all succeeded, in large part from the educated workers, the fine roads, the fair court system, the investments in basic research and the countless other things that the rest of us Americans pay for through our taxes.

We are fortunate to finally have a governor intelligent enough and brave enough to say to big business and the top wage earners, in effect, "stop being so greedy -do your part as an American to save this economy".


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Yet Another Murderous Lunatic

Posted by George Greene on Mon 10 of Jan., 2011 CST 09:12:33 AM

I've written here before about the increasing frequency of violent acts committed by people adhering to an extreme right wing worldview. And, paraphrasing Reagan: "Here we go again".
It is important to note that normal everyday Conservatives find the shooting in Arizona abhorrent. Violence is not a central part of the Conservative worldview. I don't believe violence is necessarily the result of any political worldview but of intentionally engineered propaganda aimed at dumbing down the populace until it can be fed whatever manner of lies suit the purpose of the propagandist. However, extremists of any political stripe can move beyond their core worldview into dangerous variants. In this time and place it's the GOP and they've been hard at it for 40 years.  Tragically they've been way more successful than we give them credit for.And it is impossible to deny that the GOP/Tea Party has certainly shifted toward the extreme. Armed and growing right wing militias -many associated with the Tea Party- are now seen as a very dangerous threat by the Department of Homeland Security.
To be fair, the shooter was obviously and demonstrably disturbed. It is likely he would have seized on any number of weird extremist worldviews to justify what he did, even if there were no ready-to-eat right wing extremism for him to pick up on.
Yet when he and the other murderers over the past few years have chosen an extremist right wing framework to hang their actions on, you'd think there'd be a little toning down of the rhetoric and propaganda on the right in response -at least a truly sincere denouncement. Yet the rhetoric only increases as the GOP genuflects before Tea Party supporters. Glenn Beck shows an unhinged break with reality every day -truly weird things that the AZ murderer believed in completely; should Republicans really have this guy as a friend?
Protestation to the contrary, right wing vitriol far exceeds that of left wing crazies, yet the media's attempts to be equivocal -what they call "balanced"- continually masks the scale of right wing vitriol. At this point in time we don't see left wing screamers having anywhere near the bully pulpit that dangerous blowhards like Limbaugh and Beck do. We don't see Democratic leadership engaging in the level of demonization we see from GOP leaders. You can certainly find similar wide eyed screaming nut jobs on the left -but we don't let 'em drive our bus.
The characteristics of right wing speech, involving intense emotion, rigid adherence to doctrine, dismissal of science, reason and academics, and rampant counter-factual propaganda should be red flags to any fan of civil discourse -and of democracy. That kind of speech, while legal and protected, is irresponsible and creates a culture of demonization. Indeed, central to the conservative worldview is the idea that any opposition to it is seen as inherently immoral. It's not such a surprise to see more and more people willing to engage in violence against those they see as immoral subhumans. This is a hallmark of authoritarianism.
When you think you are always right and everyone else is always wrong, you need to do a little intellectual soul searching. It is time for Conservative leaders to understand that people who disagree with them are not evil -and that they are never going away. They need to understand that in America we have a system of decision making that allows all of us to get along through compromise and, hopefully with willing partners, through creative solutions (it's happened before and it can happen again). It is a decade past the time when GOP leaders should have reigned in the extremism and the overheated rhetoric. It is certainly time for citizens to vote them out if they won't do it now.


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Jesus was a Liberal

Posted by George Greene on Tue 21 of Dec., 2010 CST 10:44:45 AM

The relationship between faith and science or reason, for me, is more like the Asian philosophers see it -faith or intuition guides the choice of what to study and how to act on the findings of science. Reality is what it is and rather than trying to conform it to a belief (or disbelieveit), our understanding of creation changes as we know more and more.



Faith and politics, however, has resisted any tidy summation. I've been especially confused as to the seeming paradox that right wing ideology is tied up so closely with both Christianity and Islam (as well as many other faiths throughout history). Both religions preach peace and love for those less fortunate, yet small bands of "Muslims", trying to enforce strictly conservative and authoritative rule feel justified in terrorizing innocent people to get their way. I'm not saying in any way that today's fundamental Christians are violent terrorists. Certainly the militia groups allied with the Tea Party are racists, arming for some imagined socialist takeover, but as most Muslims are peaceful, so are the rank and file Tea Partiers. (And we have our nut cases too!)



My confusion comes from seeing the pro wealth side of today's fundamental Christians (Al Franken's "Supply Side Jesus"). Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple -he did not invite them in to give wealth building seminars or suggest that his followers emulate them or that people should sacrifice so the wealthiest could accumulate all the wealth they wanted. Yet that is the situation today in America. Factually, the wealthy, even in the midst of this great recession continue to get richer. For decades the trend has been thus, while real wages for the middle class have been flat since the 80s. Factually, Trickle Down did not work. Even more curiously, any factual accounting of GOP voting in Congress shows that it always confers benefit to the wealthiest people and corporations, whether explicitly stated or not. How does this jibe with the basic tenets of Christianity? GOP ideology has been successfully grafted onto fundamentalist Christian faith and, for the life of me, I cannot see how that makes any sense.


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Bush tax cut? How about an Obama tax cut?

Posted by George Greene on Tue 16 of Nov., 2010 CST 10:53:32 AM

A simple way out of the Bush tax cut problem: pass a separate bill cutting taxes on the middle class by a much as the Bush tax cut, then simply allow the Bush tax cuts, in their entirety, to expire. Net zero for the middle class.

The Bush cuts are set to expire Dec 31st anyway; do nothing and they go away! This would have the dual advantages of increasing the tax rate on the wealthiest citizens, as a true progressive system should, and puts the GOP in the awkward position of voting against a tax cut for the very people they endeavor to bamboozle!

Maybe we call it ObamaCut!


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Missing Leadership

Posted by George Greene on Wed 03 of Nov., 2010 CDT 01:54:19 PM

If Democrats do not get communication at the national level we are doomed.

The grim reality is that our elections are decided by a slice of the electorate with poorly formed or non existent political worldviews. In that void of knowledge and understanding, they become susceptible to any manner of influence and they've been steadily bamboozled and manipulated by the GOP for decades.

We've allowed the GOP to do it by offering little resistance. If our leadership at the national level would have done its job, voters would have understood that the Republicans crashed the economy,  intentionally and selfishly prevented the President and Congress from fixing it and now offer nothing in the way of solutions than what they did to mess things up in the first place. It should have been the mantra of every Democrat in every interview. The President and Harry Reid should have been on TV over and over, apoplectic at the constant stream of filibusters and gridlock.

The GOP is not as clueless -you can bet the big message in 2011 will be that Democrats are  obstructionists -and you watch how the voters will instantly parrot that talking point.

The seemingly pathological refusal to employ effective framing strategies is a collosal failure and heads should roll. Rather than tacking right as some suggest, we need to get our house in order, be who we are and offer the values we know the electorate shares with us.

We work hard to do our part to nurture good candidates and turnout voters but it gets very hard to do all that work and watch it just get pissed away.

Sorry. Today is not a happy one. I'll be back to my smilin' self soon.


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Keeping Fear Alive

Posted by George Greene on Tue 26 of Oct., 2010 CDT 10:59:13 AM

My 19 year old son is an adopted Korean and on the autism spectrum. He is very smart and has been looking forward to casting his first ever vote. He couldn't find his drivers license in time to register with his civics class so I told him we'd just register at the polls.

Then he asks "Well, I heard about the Tea Party challenging voters; won't they challenge me?" Uh, oh.  Social situations are tough for autistic kids and confrontational ones even more so. I assured him that I'd be there and that as long as we had the right IDs he'd be fine. He was, however, certain that, because we did not look alike, they'd single him out.

Well, teachable moment I figure, and I mentioned that the very point of Republican  challengers was, in fact, to scare people and if we avoided voting then they'd get away with it. I told him Democrats station challengers of their own for the opposite purpose of ensuring that people eligible to vote can actually do so.  Unfortunately, what might have been two or three people involved was now a picture of a growing crowd. Any parent of an autistic child can see this is going nowhere. I'll be taking him to City Hall instead to vote absentee. This way he won't associate voting with fear.

What does it say about today's extremist Republican Party that my son -or anyone else- has to even worry about this? They claim tey want to eliminate raud, but in typical Republican fashion, the problem is ginned up. There is no evidence that election fraud is rampant but it is a great wedge issue and justifies their camaign to prevent voters from voting. Republicans arefamous for this: their famous felon list in Florida, the questionable Diebold machines and the intentionally caused lines at polling places in Democratic precincts in Ohio.

It's not enough to have crashed the economy, locked up government, and ravaged the middle class; now, using fear, they want to keep people from having a say about it. Shameful.

Proud Father Update: My son told me he would go to the polls, registered at the polls, kept an eye on the GOP voter prevention guy and voted for the first time. That's my boy!


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