Liberal, Irreverent

Saturday, January 31, 2009

What California and the United States have both in common?

What California and the United States both have in common?

1) Both are world economies: The USA is the #1 economy in the world while California is the 5th largest economy of the world.

2) Both hold huge budget deficits: The USA holds over a trillion dollar deficit while California holds a 42 billion dollar deficit.

3) The top executives who managed the state economies in the last 8 yrs are republicans.

4) Both, the USA and CA, were in much better financial shape before the republican executives took over.

Just coincidence and bad luck or is this another example of how incompetent are republicans in managing the taxpayers resources?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gallup: Dems lead in party ID in 44 states

Call it the Obama effect or call it the George Bush effect. Whatever you call it, its name is "bad news" for the Republican Party.


The political landscape of the United States has clearly shifted in the Democratic direction, and in most states, a greater proportion of state residents identified as Democrats or said they leaned to the Democratic Party in 2008 than identified as Republicans or leaned Republican.

As recently as 2002, a majority of states were Republican in orientation. By 2005, movement in the Democratic direction was becoming apparent, and this continued in 2006. That dramatic turnaround is clearly an outgrowth of Americans' dissatisfaction with the way the Republicans (in particular, President George W. Bush) governed the country.

With Democratic support at the national level the highest in more than two decades and growing each of the last five years, Republican prospects for significant gains in power in the near term do not appear great. But the recent data do show that party support can change rather dramatically in a relatively short period of time.

America a "center-right" nation? Give me a break.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Truth About EFCA and Secret Ballot Elections

The Truth About EFCA and Secret Ballot Elections
Posted on January 29, 2009 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Dmitri Iglitzin

dmitriThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce has promised to spend $10 million opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the proposed federal law that would allow workers to form unions based on a showing of majority support, sometimes referred to as a “card check” election. Other big bucks are being spent by faux-grassroots organizations with misleading names such as the “Coalition for a Democratic Workplace” and the “Center for Union Facts.” President Barack Obama was not exaggerating when he said, recently, that the business community considers EFCA “the devil incarnate.”

The focal point of opposition to EFCA is the provisions that make it easier for workers to form unions without going through a secret ballot election. Opponents contend that without secret ballot elections, workers will be coerced by union organizers into signing cards or petitions. As one opponent, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), put it, “It is beyond me how one can possibly claim that a system whereby everyone – your employer, your union organizer, and your co-workers – knows exactly how you vote on the issue of unionization gives an employee ‘free choice.’”

But fatally undermining this argument is a dirty little secret known as “Wurtland Nursing.”

Wurtland Nursing provides rehabilitative, hospice, and long-term care to residents in Wurtland, KY. A local affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing unions, has represented the maintenance and service employees at this facility since 1997.

In 2003 a Wurtland Nursing employee presented the company a petition signed by over 50 percent of the workers asking for a vote to remove the union. Wurtland Nursing immediately repudiated its relationship with SEIU and declared itself a non-union company.

The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the nation’s chief arbiter of labor disputes, contending that Wurtland Nursing had no right to reject the union without a secret ballot election having occurred. Four years later, the NLRB decided in favor of the company, saying that it didn’t matter that there had not been an actual vote. The petition was all the proof the company needed to conclude that the workers no longer wanted to be represented by the union.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce did not denounce this decision. Neither the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace nor the Center for Union Facts raised a stink. Despite the fact that Wurtland Nursing had stripped its employees of their union on the basis of signatures on a petition, rather than after a secret ballot election, no prominent critic of EFCA has ever criticized the outcome of that case.

Yet the principle supposedly being violated by EFCA, the need for a secret ballot, is violated as much by the Wurtland Nursing rule, which allows employers to repudiate unions based on petition signatures, as it would be by EFCA, which would allow workers to obtain union representation in the same manner.

The truth is that neither business nor labor genuinely doubts that signatures on a petition or on cards are a legitimate and appropriate basis for determining what the majority of workers want. It is high time for employers to acknowledge that truth, along with the fact there is nothing wrong with permitting workers to ask openly to be represented by a union, and for their employers to thereby become obligated to honor that request.

A December 2006 Peter D. Hart Research Associates survey found that 60 million Americans would like to join a union, but are discouraged from doing so by employer intimidation. An April, 2007 Institute for America’s Future study estimates that passage of the EFCA would increase union membership by 10 percent, providing an additional 3,537,625 people with health insurance and 2,773,045 more people with pensions.

In this time of economic crisis those numbers are a compelling argument for EFCA. In contrast, the argument that EFCA will undermine secret ballot elections falls apart in light of the Wurtland Nursing rule. And no amount of employer rhetoric can put that argument back together again.

Dmitri Iglitzin is a partner in the law firm, Schwerin Campbell Barnard & Iglitzin. His practice is centered on labor and employment law. Advising and representing labor unions in local, state, and federal proceedings,

Obama’s Statement on the House’s Vote

January 28, 2009, 7:36 pm
Obama’s Statement on the House’s Vote

“Last year, America lost 2.6 million jobs. On Monday alone, we learned that some of our biggest employers plan to cut another 55,000. This is a wakeup call to Washington that the American people need us to act and act immediately.

That is why I am grateful to the House of Representatives for moving the American Recovery and Reinvestment plan forward today. There are many numbers in this plan. It will double our capacity to generate renewable energy. It will lower the cost of health care by billions and improve its quality. It will modernize thousands of classrooms and send more kids to college. And it will put billions of dollars in immediate tax relief into the pockets of working families.

But out of all these numbers, there is one that matters most to me: this recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years.

I can also promise that my administration will administer this recovery plan with a level of transparency and accountability never before seen in Washington. Once it is passed, every American will be able to go the website and see how and where their money is being spent.

The plan now moves to the Senate, and I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk. But what we can’t do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way. We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do.”

Democrats who voted against the Obama stimulus plan

Allen Boyd (D-FL-02)
Bobby Bright (D-AL-02)
Jim Cooper (D-TN-05)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN-08)
Parker Griffith (D-AL-05)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA-11)
Frank Kratovil (D-MD-01)
Walt Minnick (D-ID-01)
Colliin Peterson (D-MN-07)
Heath Shuler (D-NC-11)
Gene Taylor (D-MS-04)

Bailout Recipients Hosted Call to Defeat Key Labor Bill

Bailout Recipients Hosted Call to Defeat Key Labor Bill
Tuesday 27 January 2009
by: Sam Stein, The Huffington Post

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call - including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG - were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.

"This is the demise of a civilization," said Marcus. "This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it."

Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars were needed, it was argued, to prevent America from turning "into France."

"If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs," Marcus declared.

Earlier he argued: "As a shareholder, if I knew the CEO of the company wasn't doing anything on [EFCA]... I would sue the son of a bitch... I'm so angry at some of these CEOs, I can't even believe the stupidity that is involved here."

Audio of the conference call, which was obtained by the Huffington Post, is excerpted throughout this piece to provide a clearer insight into the pitched battle surrounding the Employee Free Choice legislation. At one point, relatively early in the call, Marcus joked that he "took a tranquilizer this morning to calm myself down."

"This bill may be one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life," he said, explaining that he could have been on "a 350-foot boat out in the Mediterranean," but felt it was more important to engage on this fight. "It is incredible to me that anybody could have the chutzpah to try and pass this bill in this election year, especially when we have an economy that is a disaster, a total absolute disaster."

The legislation - which would allow workers to form a union either by holding a traditional election or having a majority of employees sign written forms - is virtually certain to face a Republican filibuster. Obama and Senate Democrats have stated their commitment to the bill, though the timing of the vote remains a topic of heated debate.

Weeks before the November election, Marcus, Berman, and others saw this ominous political landscape taking shape. Hoping to aid opponents of EFCA in the Senate, they pleaded with participants on the call, mostly stock analysts or individuals with investment portfolios, to urge clients to prop up the campaigns of endangered Republican candidates, including Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

"If there are not enough Republicans operating as a firewall, after this election it is going to be very difficult to hold the line," predicted Berman. "The only way after these elections if we don't have a filibuster proof Senate... is to make this issue so hot in some states so that even a Democrat who is up for election in 2010 has to think twice about whether or not they are going to let this thing go by."

At one point, another individual on the call suggested that participants send major contributions to Berman's organization as a way of affecting the election without violating the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. "Some organizations have written checks for $250,000, $500,000, some $2 million for this," said the man, likely Steven Hantler, the director of free enterprise and entrepreneurship at Bernie Marcus' Marcus Foundation.

Citing the massive war chests that unions have brought to the EFCA fight, Marcus asked participants to make campaign donations rather than lobbying payments. "Fire all these guys in Washington," he said of the K-Street operators, "they are worthless anyway."

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Berman said that there "was nothing on that call that spoke to funneling money to anybody." Indeed, at a separate point, Marcus discussed the need to contribute to issue advocacy and education activities. The call, Berman continued, was designed to explain some of the economic implications of passing EFCA and was "one of a series with people around the country who are connected to businesses."

"There has been, though it has changed in the last few months, a fairly significant deficit in terms of understanding what this law is about," Berman said. "I know a number of business groups have held calls with people about the impact of this legislation... The unions who are a proponent of this have not made it a high profile issue. I think they have learned from their polling that it doesn't poll well, which is why they don't' want to make it a public issue."

As for the business community, Berman added, "I do think that most businesspeople fully appreciate the damage that out-of-control labor leaders have caused for other businesses. There is no appetite for finding out if you are going to have to be the next business to deal with other labor issues."

A Bank of America spokesman declined a request for public comment, and the bank's representative on the call played a minor role. The conference call was referenced in a November 5 Bank of America research document, in which the company noted that EFCA "increases the likelihood that retailers would be unionized, which could drive higher labor cost at retail." On "the flip side," however, the document said the bill would increase the "spending power of lower income consumers as this would be a de facto wage and benefit increase."

As evidenced by its dual interpretation of the legislation, Bank of America's role in the EFCA fight is a bit murky. The company, as stated by an official there, hosted the call for the purposes of equity research, meaning that their goal was to represent the opinions of clients and not the bank itself. But their involvement in an effort to drum up support for defeating the labor-backed legislation, so soon after getting bail out funds from the federal government, left a bad taste in the mouth of some union officials.

"Bank of America is now not only getting bailout money. They are lending their name to participate in a campaign to stop workers from having a majority sign up [provision]," said Stephen Lerner, Director of the Private Equity Project at SEIU. "The biggest corporations who have created the problem are, at the very time, asking us to bail them out and then using that money to stop workers from improving their lives."

Tax Cuts An Inefficient Stimulus

Tax Cuts An Inefficient Stimulus
Isaiah J. Poole's picture
By Isaiah J. Poole
October 27th, 2008 - 11:04am ET

A federal spending program that only yielded 37 cents of benefit for every dollar spent, or even less, would generate sustained demands from the conservative chattering class that it be shut down. So why does the right keep selling extending President Bush's tax cuts as an economic stimulus tool?

The argument that tax cuts are preferable to federal spending to stimulate the economy is effectively refuted by a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, which lays side by side the various effects of stimulus proposals from both the left and the right. What's clear, as you can see from the chart below, is that as a rule taxpayers get a fair better bang for their dollars through direct federal stimulus spending than they do from the tax proposals proffered by conservatives.

The main components of a stimulus package being formulated by a group of progressive leaders—which would be about $300 billion a year and would include infrastructure spending, extended unemployment benefits, and assistance to state and local governments—all give a positive return to the taxpayer.

Tax proposals promoted by conservatives as the core of their stimulus strategy—making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further cuts in corporate tax rates and accelerated depreciation—all yield a negative return to the taxpayer.

An economic snapshot report by EPI explains that direct spending is also more effective than the tax rebate strategy that was employed earlier in 2008. EPI's Ethan Pollack notes:

As money is spent, it creates beneficial ripples through the entire economy. The evidence is that most of the money from the recent tax rebate was saved rather than spent, thus blunting its stimulative benefit.1 By comparison, other options—such as infrastructure spending, aid to states, food stamps, and unemployment insurance (UI) benefits—are much more cost-effective because they target the needs most likely to channel money back into the economy. Mark Zandi from Moody’s estimates that each dollar of refundable tax rebates only boosts GDP by about $1.26, while each dollar of infrastructure spending could provide a $1.59 boost. Not only are many of these stimulus options more effective, but they also have the added benefit of assisting those hardest hit by the downturn and tackling long-standing infrastructure needs that would lower transportation costs, decrease traffic, and increase business productivity.

Zandi’s analysis also shows what doesn’t work as stimulus: a variety of tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals, which cost over twice as much as they return to the economy.

EPI economist Jared Bernstein discussed these findings October 24 at a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee. There, he noted that the past eight years of economic policy—based on the principle that the benefits of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would trickle down to working-class people—have been a failure for millions of ordinary Americans:

Much of the current recession/stimulus debate has stressed that recent recessions—the ones in 1990-91 and 2001—were both mild and short-lived, and perhaps the next recession will follow the same pattern. It is critical to recognize that these claims are based solely on real output growth, and not on job market conditions. The allegedly mild 2001 recession, wherein real gross domestic product barely contracted, was followed by the longest “jobless recovery” on record. Though real GDP grew, payrolls shed another net 1.1 million jobs. The unemployment rate rose for another 19 months and for almost two years for African-Americans. The pattern was similar, though not quite as deep, after the early 1990s recession.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) Continues To Lie About The CBO Analysis Of Recovery Bill

Update: Despite Cantor's efforts, it seems he and his caucus might not be exactly on the same page. On NPR this morning, Cantor "thanked" Obama for "working with us" to include "some terrific tax provisions in the bill." At the same time, however, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) insisted on Fox News, "Republicans have had no input whatsoever in the development of this so-called stimulus bill." On CNN, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said of House Republicans' complaints, "I don't think they ought to whine about the process."

Cantor Continues To Lie About The CBO Analysis Of Recovery Bill

cantor-godly.jpgLast week, ThinkProgress called out House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) for lying about the economic recovery bill, specifically for claiming that the bill would give more money to “grass” on the National Mall then to small businesses. In new interviews, he continues to peddle the same falsehood, even though House Democrats have now agreed to strip the “grass” funding completely.

More importantly, Cantor is lying about the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) assessment of the recovery bill by continuing to cite a preliminary, incomplete, and misleading CBO chart — despite the fact that the full report was released Monday, giving him plenty of time to arm himself with the truth:

– Well, I mean, you know, the lasting problem with this bill, not only will it not deliver real stimulus — even the Congressional Budget Office says it’s not stimulative — is that, you know, people and businesses and entrepreneurs are going to look out into the future and see trillions of dollars of additional debt. [CNBC, 1/28/09]

– I think first of all you have to focus spending on actual stimulus. You’ve got CBO saying that only 25 percent goes out in the first year. You’ve got to have some type of ability to provide that jobs will be created or maintained because of the government spending. [Interview with Marc Ambinder, 1/27/09]

Cantor’s complaints ring hollow. As to his first claim, the CBO analysis found that the recovery bill would have “a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years.” As far as his second statement, the CBO report stated that about 65 percent of the funding would be spent by September 2010. (The report said it “would not be appropriate” to calculate spending in 2009 because “because the bill would be enacted almost halfway into the fiscal year.”)

Cantor’s lies are more evidence that the right wing is desperate for reasons to oppose the bill, despite President Obama’s unprecedented efforts to woo conservatives. Although Cantor and his allies have praised Obama for reaching out, behind closed doors they are demanding that all Republicans vote against the recovery bill:

[N]one of the Republicans in attendance spoke up in disagreement when urged to oppose the legislation by their leaders. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the party’s leader, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second in command, said they wanted “100 percent” opposition to the measure, which they argue includes billions in wasteful spending, these officials said.

Now former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who has proved capable at telling House Republicans what to do — is seeking to corral the opposition, offering an emphatic “no” when asked if conservatives should support the bill.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why House Republicans Aren't Worth Listening To

Why House Republicans Aren't Worth Listening To

Posted by Christopher Hayes, The Nation at 3:28 PM on January 27, 2009.

This has, all things considered, been a pretty great week for the republic: executive orders increasing government transparency, banning torture, and beginning the process of closing Guantanamo. Obama's also given a nuanced, thoughtful and largely pitch-perfect interview to Al Arabiya as his first public interview, reaching out to the Muslim world in a way, frankly, only he probably could. So, overall, thumbs up, Mr. President!

But: today's been frustrating. Earlier in the week we got word that a provision to allow bankruptcy judges to alter mortgage terms will not be included in the stimulus, partly at the White House's behest. Now, it's unclear whether there was ever much momentum inside the House and Senate leadership to put this in the bill, but the fact that it's not going in is nearly criminal. Almost every single economist and expert I've talked to thinks this is an absolutely necessary step in foreclosure mitigation. No less a flaming Marxist than Richard Berner. It's also very easy to implement, since bankruptcy judges already have the power to alter mortgage terms for non-primary residences. On the policy merits, it's a no brainer. And on top of that, Senate Democrats, apparently in direct negotiations with Citigroup have gotten Citigroup to agree not to oppose the provision (so kind of them!), I don't even see where the political opposition is coming from. Get this done, now.

Then there's the word that at Obama's urging, House Democrats are going to cut birth control funding from the stimulus. Yglesias notes, wisely that this seems to be concession in exchange for nothing. It's not like more Republicans are now going to vote for the bill that weren't before.

But more crucially, I think it's really important to put the House Republican caucus in context. After two successive bloodbaths, the house GOP Caucus is pared down pretty far. Those left standing more or less represent fairly hard core, deep red conservative districts. Rep. Jeb Hensnarling is not going to vote for the stimulus because he just doesn't believe in large government spending to stimulate the economy. That's fine: I imagine many of his constituents feel the same way. So kudos to him for representing his district. But there's no reason, then to take what Hensnarling or Cantor or Boehner say about the stimulus particularly seriously. Ideologically they are disposed to oppose it, and politically they can only win if Obama fails. Believe me, if the situation were reversed, if the Democrats were down to a caucus dominated by Barbara Lee's and Dennis Kucinich's, no one in the GOP nor the MSM would much care about their complaints that a Republican-sponsored bill cut food stamps, or LIHEAP, or otherwise screwed poor people.

And it's not like conservative views won't be represented in the final legislation. It's in the nature of the Senate to give outsize representation to the minority. There are plenty of Republican senators who actually represent states where they will face accountability to the voters.

So, note to the White House: whenever John Boehner shows up on your TV, change the channel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dean Baker | The Anti-Stimulus Crowd Blows a Gasket

t r u t h o u t | 01.26

Dean Baker | The Anti-Stimulus Crowd Blows a Gasket

Dean Baker, Truthout:

"The anti-stimulus crowd is getting desperate. The possibility that a young charismatic new president will push through an ambitious package that begins to set the economy right is truly terrifying to this crew. After all, if the economy begins to turn around and has largely recovered in three or four years, the Republican leadership can look forward to spending most of their careers in the political wilderness."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

GOP Tax Philosophy

Tax breaks for people who do not earn enough to pay INCOME taxes is just government welfare. Then what the hell GOP thinks are Social Security taxes, MEDICARE taxes, PROPERTY taxes & SALES taxes? Maybe Jon Kyl (R-AZ), have the answer?

This Week In Science

This Week In Science
by DarkSyde
Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 07:00:05 AM PST

Physics, mathematics, chemistry, and of course near and dear to our hearts on earth, biology. These and other analytical disciplines are not just fields of study. They are the universal operating system, the software running everything in the cosmos, including us. The software is immutable, for the spiritual among you, think of it as pre-written. But built into that cosmic code is a flexibility allowing creatures clever enough to master even a tiny portion of it to benefit immensely. There are encouraging signs our new President gets that:

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

And we’ve barely scratched the surface. What fortunes might be made, what misfortunes could be eased, with a top down focus on science? Better motor function for the paralyzed, new tissue for the burned, maybe one day new organs, even new eyes; low abundance proteins with astonishing, healing properties; nanosolar cells that can be painted on walls with a brush, ready to be routed and plugged into your fuse box.

With money so tight, and the economy so weak, with so many problems riding on the shoulders of the new President and Congress, it’s tempting to overlook any program which is not immediately essential. But I would urge the newly elected to think long and hard when it comes to science funding. Because science is a lot more than understanding the universe we inhabit or grasping the intricacies of particles that make it up: Science is the engine of innovation and capitalism.

* Seed Science Blogs has set up a discussion and feedback platform for scientists to talk to and about about Obama's Inaugural phrase, "The rightful place of science."

* Another treasured conservative tool for denying global melting bites the dust: The most comprehensive study to date now indicates Antarctica is indeed warming. I'll have more on this tomorrow on Sunday Kos.

* I'm proud to say my own, newly elected Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas -- also recently appointed to the House Committee on Science -- is already getting into the science funding spirit.

* The first experimental treatment for spinal cord injuries in humans using modified embryonic stem cells has been given the greenlight to proceed by the FDA.

* There's flu and then there's complications from flu. This one is a pneumonia complicated by pus formation. Think of a 2 liter soda bottle, empty, and then put a balloon in it and blow it up so that the balloon takes the shape of inside the bottle. The bottle is your chest wall and the balloon is your lung, filled with air. Put water in the balloon and you have pneumonia. But put an inch or two of water in the bottle, and then put the balloon in, and you get water outside the balloon/lung but inside the bottle/chest. It's a complication of pneumonia called a parapneumonic effusion and it's not good. It often has to be drained via a hole in the bottle/chest wall. But if instead of fluid you get pus, it's called empyema. That's even worse, and is difficult to treat, especially in young children (i.e. it's hospital stuff with maybe an invasive procedure for drainage. Do not try this at home.)

Bacterial pneumonia with empyema is a serious complication of influenza and commonly resulted in death during the 1918 influenza pandemic. We hypothesize that deaths caused by parapneumonic empyema are increasing in Utah once again despite advances in critical care and the availability of antimicrobial drugs and new vaccines. In this study, we analyzed the historical relationship between deaths caused by empyema and influenza pandemics by using 100 years of data from Utah. Deaths caused by empyema have indeed increased from 2000–2004 when compared with the historic low death rates of 1950–1975. Vaccine strategies and antimicrobial drug stockpiling to control empyema will be important as we prepare for the next influenza pandemic.

I include this because people often say, "but 1918 was primitive, and we have fancy medicine." Nuh-uh. Even modern medicine is seeing increasing bacterial resistance and virulence (think MRSA, another potential flu complication). If hospitals are full, medications are in short supply, and you have to deal with this at home, you are in big trouble. And if you want to add in the health reform/finance/insurance issues that interfere with excellent and timely care... well, in the meantime, get your flu shot.


Friday, January 23, 2009

The GOP Attack Machine Kicks Into Gear

The GOP Attack Machine Kicks Into Gear
by Jed L
Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 06:04:11 PM PST

It's as easy to see as 1-2-3:

1. Rush Limbaugh tells his radio audience that he wants Obama to fail.

2. Within four hours of Barack Obama's inauguration, FOX was pimping the Republican talking point that the Dow took the biggest dive of any inaugural day in history, mentioning it on at least ten separate occasions. (The talking point is technically true, but misleading. It ignores the fact that in percentage terms, the Dow dropped by about the same amount as it did on Ronald Reagan's inaugural day. More importantly, the drop had no more to do with Obama than the fact that on Wednesday, the Dow climbed by more points than it has on the first full day in office of any President in U.S. history.)

3. On Wednesday alone, Republicans stalled Secretary of State Clinton's confirmation until late in the day, lambasted Timothy Geithner for having screwed up his taxes a few years ago, even though he's subsequently paid back everything that was due, and blocked a vote on Eric Holder's nomination to be Attorney General.

President Obama has steadfastly extended his hand to these very same Republicans. He's tried in good faith to work with them. He's given them every opportunity to be a productive part of this government, even though they were battered in the November elections.

But so far, the GOP is refusing the President's olive branch. Instead of signing up to help turn this country around, they are playing the same old petty partisan games that led to their defeat in 2008.

They might be making the mistake of misinterpreting President Obama's gestures as signs of weakness. They might think that he doesn't have the heart for conflict.

If that's what they believe, and they insist on continuing on their destructive path, then they are making a grave mistake. They have no idea what's coming. If they thought 2008 was bad, just wait until 2010.

Smart Republicans understand that now is the time to jump on board the train. Trouble for the GOP is, not that many of them are all that smart.

After all, these are the same jokers who got us into this mess in the first place.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama: It is not about promoting abortion, but defending women right to choose

Obama: "...we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make”.

I agree completely. It is not about promoting abortion or running around telling women 'go ahead, have an abortion, it's OK and cool" , as those crazy, liar conservative demagogues want make people believe. It is about defending women right to choose what they think is best for them, while at the same time we work to avoid unintended pregnancies through education and support.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What is HOPE?

The Texas Democratic Women of Collin County, TX

President Obama has renewed our hope for the future. How do you spell your hope for the future? Is it . . .

Housing that is affordable
Opportunity for all
Early childhood education

Healthcare for everyone
Openness and accountability
Positive international relations
Environmental protections

Monday, January 19, 2009

Social responsibility - just business

Richard Branson in his book "Business Stripped Bare":

"I don’t think big businesses make good governments. I know governments don’t make great businesses. But somehow we need to close the circle."

As a progressive I guess I have that "genetic predisposition" against big business, but which I have confirmed being correct over the years. Also as an American I have some of the same cynic mistrust against government which it has also been proved correct, especially after 8 years of the Bush administration. Sir Richard Branson has a point in what extremes are always bad. Businesses are not good to function as government and government is not good to function as a business (just see Bush's legacy).

I agree that in some way we need close the circle and find that perfect balance that makes business socially responsible and government efficient without firing half of the federal workforce or eliminating all social programs.

Labor can revive the American Dream

Could be a long reading but it is worth it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Families USA: National Grassroots Meeting/Health Action 2009

National Grassroots Meeting
January 29-31, 2009
Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

We stand at the edge of a new era in Washington and in our country – an era that holds great promise for health care reform to improve the lives of countless people. It is an exceptional opportunity for advocates and for those whose health may depend on reform.

At the same time, opposing interests are no doubt marshaling their resources to stop reform from happening. What does this all mean for health advocates and our work in the coming year?

It means we need to get ready. We need to:

build on our strengths,
sharpen our skills, and
hone our messages.

To borrow the words of President-elect Obama, “We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

So join us in January at Health Action 2009:

Hear powerful speeches from national leaders, including from the new Administration.
Listen to astute analysis from political experts and health policy wonks.
Get the latest on messages that work.
Enjoy the political satire of the Capitol Steps, who have no shortage of material this year.
Let your hair down with fellow health care advocates from across the U.S.

Health Action 2009 occurs mere days after we welcome the new Administration and Congress and kick off a year with real potential for significant health reform. The timing couldn’t be better. We hope you can join us.

Health Action 2009 is coming: January 29 to 31.

Were you one of the fortunate who attended last year's conference and witnessed first-hand the rousing remarks of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Gov. Mark Warner, CNN's Paul Begala, and many others?

No longer do you need to rely on watching the webcasts over and over again to relive your experience.

Perhaps you attended one of the over 35 workshops - ranging from Messaging 101 to Web 2.0 (Internet advocacy) to the Brave New World of State Medicaid Reform - and you can't wait for another opportunity to rub elbows and compare notes with health advocates from all over the country.

Did you attend in past years and hear President Bill Clinton or Vice President Al Gore? And are you now looking forward to hearing what national leaders have to say about 2009? This is your chance.

Health Action 2009: A great place to learn and share strategies with other advocates around the country and to recharge for the year ahead.

Faithful Reform in Health Care and Families USA

Families USA Health Action 2009 Conference
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 7:00-8:30 pm
Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC

Faithful Reform in Health Care and Families USA invite you to a special reception for advocates who work on health care reform within communities of faith. This event will give participants the opportunity to get better acquainted with one another before the conference begins on Thursday morning.

In keeping with the theme of the conference, an important focus of this gathering will be the sharing of information about faith engagement in the early 2009 health care reform opportunities.

Literature tables will be available for sharing print materials, and attendees will have the opportunity to make very brief verbal presentations about their work.

Heavy hors d'ourves will be served so RSVPs will be needed by Friday, January 23, 2009.

Click here to RSVP:

Plan to join us for this important opportunity to strengthen our relationships with each other as we enter a critical time for shaping the future of health care reform work in the United States.

May health and peace be yours in the new year!

Maryellen Barreca
Project Manager
Families USA

Rev. Linda Hanna Walling
Executive Director
Faithful Reform in Health Care

Because Everyone Knows Oil Companies Love The Poor

Because Everyone Knows Oil Companies Love The Poor
By Kyle | January 15, 2009 - 4:16pm

Last year we wrote a series of posts about the pro-drilling Americans for American Energy's bogus grassroots "Stop the War on the Poor" campaign being fronted by Niger Innis and Harry Jackson.

Over the last six months, we haven't seen anything about them and assumed that they had disbanded ... but we were wrong. Apparently, they are still hard at work and are now targeting Robert Redford for hating the poor:

Hollywood's Sundance Kid is hurting poor people.

So say some East Coast ministers and conservative activists, who took to the streets in front of a downtown Salt Lake City theater on the eve of Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival to accuse the actor of holding down low-income Americans with his opposition to oil and gas drilling near national parks in Utah.

The protesters, led by the Congress of Racial Equality's national spokesman Niger Innis, suggested Redford should "relinquish his wealth" and live like a poor person. They complained that the filmmaker's anti-drilling stance could lead to higher energy prices for inner-city residents, forcing them to accept a lower standard of living.

The clergymen prayed for Redford "to see the light" and linked his environmental activism with racism.

"The high energy prices we're going to see this winter are essentially discriminatory," said Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., chairman of the High-Impact Leadership Coalition, a petroleum industry advocate.

This whole thing is laughable, but some good has come of it - like the fact that, from this point forward, whenever I mention Harry Jackson, I will be able to follow it with the phrase "petroleum industry advocate."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Take Action: Make global warming a priority for 2009

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is working in coalition with other organizations to send a clear message to the new president: we need to build a clean energy economy that will break our dependence on oil, create millions of new jobs, and cut global warming pollution. Thank you for joining hundreds of thousands of people in signing our petition last month to Repower, Refuel, and Rebuild America. We know from experience that real change doesn’t just happen and that we cannot underestimate the power of the oil and coal industries and the legislators who support them. That’s why we need to gather a million signatures by the end of this month! Please help us reach this goal by urging your family and friends to sign the petition today.


Kate Abend
National Field Organizer
UCS Climate Program

Are you the next Obama?

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When President-Elect Obama gets sworn in on Tuesday it will be because of you. DFA members knew a raising star early in Obama's race for the Senate back in 2004 and worked tirelessly on the ground for victory using the tools and tactics we've learned together.

In fact, since the early days of DFA's Campaign Academy, we've trained over 15,000 activists and hundreds of progressive candidates in the skills to win.

Who will be the next Obama?

While we may not know the answer yet, what we do know is the DFA Campaign Academy is likely to train him -- or her.

This year, we'll host our two-day intensive campaign trainings in communities all over the country. Today, I'm excited to announce the first 7 in:

Des Moines, IA February 28-March 1
Newport News, VA March 14-15
Melbourne, FL March 21-22
Fresno, CA March 28-29
Memphis, TN April 24-25
Lafayette, IN May 15-16
Charlotte, NC June 6-7

Can you make it to any of these events this year?

During his victory speech Obama said "This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only for us the chance to make that change."

Ultimately, the power to change this country is in your hands, not in the hands of D.C politicians.

DFA Trainings bring together dozens of activists, candidates and campaign professionals for two days of intensive training and fun. Click above to learn more about our trainings and stay tuned for more training events to be announced in the coming months.

Our efforts over the past several years have taken us along way, but the hardest and most important work lies ahead. 2009 is our chance to re-build a progressive country for generations to come.

Join DFA at a 2009 training and we'll make it happen together.


Matt Blizek, Training Director
Democracy for America

Keep GE Corn for Ethanol Refineries Out of My Cornflakes!

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The United States Department of Agriculture is considering a petition from Syngenta Seeds seeking nonregulated status for a new genetically engineered corn seed that is modified to produce an enzyme that facilitates ethanol production. This new industrial GE corn could pose significant threats to the human food supply. Can you tell the new Obama Administration USDA it's time time to stand up for our food supply?

Syngenta is asking the USDA for permission to plant their non-food GE corn without any regulation. The particular genetic change that they've made to this corn is adding a plant pathogen from an exotic enzyme derived from "thermophilic" (heat-loving) microorganisms living near deep sea hydrothermal vents. These exotic enzymes are not currently in the food system. This corn designed for ethanol refineries will almost certainly accidentally enter the food supply as tortilla chips, corn oil and sweeteners. Plus, the leftover corn residues from ethanol production (called distillers grains) are fed to cattle, hogs and chickens that end up on supermarket shelves.

The worst part about this proposal is that we're putting the food system at risk to help the controversial ethanol industry save a few pennies in processing. At best, ethanol has little impact on global warming - and may even make the situation worse. And the rush to ethanol has created a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of miles long where no aquatic life can survive. Fortunately, we've got a new Administration that we can ask to stand up to corporate interests.

Tell USDA to take a stand for food safety by saying no to industrial GE corn for ethanol.

Thanks for taking action,

Sarah, Noelle, and The Food Team
Food & Water Watch

Is Coal — The new Joe Camel?

Have you seen the latest ad from the coal industry? It is truly ridiculous.

It immediately reminded me of the Joe Camel character that the tobacco industry used to make their dirty product more appealing. See it for yourself -- and learn the reality behind their spin.

The full page ad features a lump of coal wearing sunglasses as if that will somehow make it "cool" and convince people that it is clean. No matter how they dress it up, there is no such thing as "clean" coal. Not when coal plants give off more carbon pollution than all the cars and trucks on the road.

Just ask the folks in Tennessee who were in the path of the billion-gallon coal ash spill if they think coal is clean.

It is up to us to debunk the myth of so-called "clean" coal. Please check out our latest feature, and make sure your friends learn the reality. We can't let the coal industry's spin go unanswered.


Brian Hardwick

Reality Coalition

Take the Pledge to Service

I hereby make a commitment to service, volunteerism and action throughout my life.

I recognize that through service I give of myself and strengthen the bonds of community and humanity.

I will strive for a deeper understanding of the root causes of hunger and poverty and seek innovative means to address them, both locally and globally.

I commit to build awareness about service in any and all communities that I am a part of and inspire people around me to pursue issues of social justice.

For this reason, I will act with compassion, serving as a volunteer, advocate and activist for positive change in the world from this day forward.