The Deficit Scam.

In a Tea Party-based stupor, Republicans are locked in a battle with President Obama and Senate Democrats over cuts to the sizeable deficit.  Of course, rather than look at the real causes of the deficit, they continue to attack Democratic-supported institutions such as labor unions, Public Broadcasting, the Department of Education, Planned Parenthood, the health care reform bill and the so-called “entitlements” of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  And, of course, they place most of the blame for the deficit on President Obama.Once again, the Republicans are dead wrong.

According to a report by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “…the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.”

Even the costs of the stimulus bill and financial rescues have had relatively little impact on the deficit.  Again, according to the CBPP, “those costs pale next to other policies enacted since 2001 that have swollen the defict.”  The CBPP report continues, “Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration – tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for almost $7 trillion in deficits … through 2019, including the associated debt-service costs.”

The truth is that the current Republican initiatives to cut the deficit are a ruse.  They are merely driven by ideology in an attempt to strengthen their hold on public office.  There are only three ways to cut the deficit without harming the middle class and the most vulnerable people in our society:  Cut our bloated defense budget designed, not just to protect us, but to force our will on the rest of the world.  End corporate welfare such as the obscene subsidies for Big Oil.  And raise taxes on those who can most afford it, such as the 400 Americans who control 50 percent of the nation’s wealth.

If you’d like to read the entire CBPP report for yourself, follow this link:

A Revealing (And Hopeful) Note From Japan.

I won’t often do this.  I did not write the following note and I do not know who did.  But I think you will find it as fascinating as I did.  It’s no less than a reminder of how we should cherish what we have and how we should treat each other.

From a friend who has a friend in Japan:

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share  supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful. During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs  and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing inlines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be inthe old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often. We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now.

I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group. There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walkingtheir dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No  cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The Sendai mountains are solid and with the crisp air we can see themsilhouetted against the sky magnificently. And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there.

Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to seeif everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no. They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others.  

Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again. Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger thanmyself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me. With Love in return, to you all.

Homeless in the good ol’ USA.

A couple of weeks ago, CBS’ 60 Minutes ran an incredibly touching segment on homeless families.  Scott Pelley assembled a diverse group of homeless children and asked them a series of questions about their circumstances.  They responded by talking about going to bed hungry, the effects of homelessness and hunger on their studies, the shame of feeling different than “normal” kids and their sense of guilt from feeling as though they are a hardship on their parents.

The impact of the segment was both heart-wrenching and utterly maddening.  Despite our current economic problems, we are the richest nation on Earth.  Yet we not only seem to accept the reality that a large segment of our population is struggling to get through each day without proper food, health care or a home.  Some of our right-wing politicians and media pundits even seem determined to blame them for their problems.

They’ve blamed homebuyers for being tricked into unaffordable home loans.  They’ve tried to block unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.  They have called the unemployed lazy.  And they’re trying to repeal (or at least de-fund) the health care bill that will make affordable health care accessible to all Americans.

If these politicians can watch a few of the 16 million impoverished children in America talk about their struggles and still continue to attack programs that could make the lives of these kids better, it’s time for these politicians to go.

Yesterday couldn’t be soon enough.

A Political Quiz:

Would you vote for a candidate who promised to gut public education?  Would you vote for a candidate who promised to make the rich richer at the expense of the middle class?  A candidate who promised to steal billions from individual retirement accounts and give it to greedy Wall Street bankers?  A candidate who promised to send millions of jobs overseas and reward corporations for doing it?

Would you vote for a candidate who promised to take health care away from millions?  A candidate who promised to eliminate Social Security?  To cut taxes on corporations while raising sales taxes on necessities?  To eliminate collective bargaining for workers?  To eliminate safety nets for the poor?

Would you vote for a candidate who promised to prioritize firearms over children?  To prioritize corporate profits over our environment?  To torture political enemies?  To start wars without an attack, or even a threat of attack?  To bankrupt local, state and federal governments in pursuit of his/her ideological agenda?

Would you vote for a candidate who promised to tell any lie necessary to be re-elected?

No?  Then why would you ever vote for a Republican again?

The Radicalization of Christianity in America.

This Thursday, Rep. Peter King will convene a Congressional committee to examine the radicalization of Islam in America.  But why stop there?  If Republicans insist on holding hearings on the radicalization of religions in America, shouldn’t they also look into those who attend churches and synagogues as well as mosques?

Shouldn’t we investigate the church that Timothy McVeigh attended?  How about the Columbine shooters? Maybe we should look into their family churches. Or how about the fundamentalist televangilists who actually prayed for the deaths of Supreme Court Justices so that they could be replaced by Justices who would overturn Roe V. Wade?

Shouldn’t we form a Congressional committee to look into the Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas-based organization that so plainly demonstrates hatred toward gays and our military?  Does that not qualify as a radical group? What about the “Christian” white supremicist groups and the “Christian” organizations that actively promote the murders of abortion providers?  Are they not just as responsible for violence and terrorism as radical Muslims? 

And don’t forget the Catholic Church, of which Congressman King is presumably a member. The Vatican was responsible for the Inquisition and the slaughter of untold thousands of alleged “heretics.” If it happened once, could it happen again?

As the old saying goes, people in glass houses (or churches) shouldn’t throw stones.

The beginning of the end of Democracy in the U.S.

Yes, I know that probably sounds alarmist.  But consider the following:

1- The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court gave corporations the free speech rights of individuals.  The effect is to make them super-citizens allowing them to inject tens of millions of dollars into our political campaigns with virtually no oversight.  This, of course, greatly benefits the Republican Party which represents the interests of large corporations.

2- Ohio, Wisconsin and other states which are now controlled by Republican governors and Republican-led legislatures have attacked labor unions in order to limit their bargaining rights.  Of course, it’s only coincidence that labor unions are the last remaining large contributors to Democratic Party election campaigns.

3- Republicans at all levels of government are pushing legislation that would de-fund Planned Parenthood, another traditional contributor to Democratic campaigns.

4- Republicans are pushing to de-fund Public Broadcasting which they see as liberal-leaning media that ask too many difficult questions.

5- Finally, many of the states controlled by Republican governors and Republican legislatures are now pushing legislation that would require state-issued IDs in order to vote.  While seemingly innocuous, these IDs would prevent many college students and minorities from voting in their states.  Again, it’s merely coincidence that college students and minorities most often vote for Democratic candidates.The impact of all of this is to greatly increase campaign funds for Republican candidates and to decrease available funding for Democratic candidates.  These tactics would also serve to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters and to quiet independent media that refuse to adhere to Republican talking points.

This is a serious threat, folks!  We can’t allow Republicans and their corporate masters to continue to stack the deck against working citizens.  Speak up!  Ask your Republican friends why, if their political ideas are so great, do they have to resort to trickery and bullying tactics in order to push them on ordinary people?

GOP Asks You To Sacrifice On Behalf Of The Wealthy.

The new crop of Republican deficit hawks are seeking billions of dollars in cuts to education, health care, public broadcasting, environmental protection and pension funds.  “It’s necessary for everyone to sacrifice in order to reduce the deficit,” they say.

Funny that they’re not asking the wealthy or large corporations to do the same.

Indeed, $70 billion of the deficit consists of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy.  And large corporations?  In addition to their ever-lower taxes (Cutting taxes on corporations creates jobs, don’t you know?), they enjoy a raft of tax loopholes, tax incentives and outright subsidies.  For example, the world’s most profitable companies (Big Oil) are actually paid to search for oil.  And we provide grants to universities to create new and better pharamceuticals.  Then we allow the large pharamceutical companies to patent the new drugs and sell them to our population at obscene prices.

So when you hear Republicans talk about sacrifices, ask them what sacrifices they’re willing to make.  Are they going to opt out of their government paid health care?  Are they going to cut their salaries?  Are they going to raise taxes on the large corporations that contribute to their political campaigns?

You know the answer.