The unprecedented level of economic inequality in America is undeniable. In an extended essay, Bill Moyers shares examples of the striking extremes of wealth and poverty across the country, including a video report on California’s Silicon Valley. There, Facebook, Google, and Apple are minting millionaires, while the area’s homeless -- who’ve grown 20 percent in the last two years -- are living in tent cities at their virtual doorsteps.
“A petty, narcissistic, pridefully ignorant politics has come to dominate and paralyze our government,” says Bill, “while millions of people keep falling through the gaping hole that has turned us into the United States of Inequality.”
Earlier this week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined a large coalition of groups representing organized labor, seniors, veterans, women and progressives in delivering over 2 million petition signatures to the White House demanding no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and disabled veterans' benefits.
In his speech, Bernie said:
“Our job in the coming weeks and months… is to rally tens of millions of people who understand that in this country the middle class (and) working families are hurting, and we’re not going to balance the budget on their backs.”
“Anybody in the Congress who believes in cutting these … benefits … may well not be returning to Washington.”
President Obama's budget, released Wednesday, would cut benefits for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans through a so-called "chained consumer price index"(Chained CPI). This proposed change in how cost of living adjustments are calculated would mean that if you're 65 years old today, you would lose more than $650 a year when you reach 75 and more than $1,000 a year when you reach 85.
The proposed change would also affect more than 3.2 million veterans receiving disability benefits. Veterans who started receiving disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65. Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children would also be cut.
You can't possibly praise the Occupy movement enough for their response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. There are the volunteers who deliver food, water, and clothing to those in need, and even experienced medical professionals going door-to-door in elderly communities to provide whatever assistance is needed far quicker, and it seems they're doing it far more thoroughly than the traditional first-response groups.
Anna Lederman, a Russian-speaking nurse working with Occupy Sandy, walked up fourteen flights of a pitch-black stairwell in the Surfside Gardens housing complex in Coney Island on Monday and knocked on an apartment door, the only light coming from her small headlamp. An elderly woman wearing a babushka, walking slowly with a cane, told Lederman in Russian that she was all alone. She had her medications, but could not get down the stairs, and needed food. “This,” she said, “is like the second blockade of Leningrad.”
Many New Yorkers affected by the storm have complained about the uneven response from the city, FEMA, and Red Cross. Veterans of the Occupy movement, with experience in New Orleans at the Common Ground Clinic after Katrina, and in Zuccotti Park last year, have stepped in to fill the gap. “That’s one of the reasons we mobilized here first,” said Becca Piser, a street medic trained as a first-responder. “No one’s telling us where to go or not to go.” The Occupy crew in Coney Island also included some of Lederman's fellow nurses from Columbia University, who had been working in shelters and on the Occupy mission to Far Rockaway; a Russian and Spanish translator, who had answered the call on Facebook; Shawn Westfahl, one of the first medics at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park; and Roger Benham and Jeff “Fidget” (his Occupy name), who worked together doing disaster relief in New Orleans and in Haiti after the earthquake.
FEMA and the NYPD have been distributing MREs — freeze-dried meals-ready-to-eat—that come in heavy plastic pouches and must be handled correctly to self-heat, have a high sodium content that is problematic for elderly people and those with hypertension, and have instructions printed only in English. A few packets lay scattered in the dark hallways. A number of residents said they did not know what to do with them.
It was growing dark. Piser and Westfahl left to answer one last dispatch call for a cancer patient who needed a daily dose of chemo. Fidget duct-taped a sign on the outside of the building saying that every floor had been checked by Occupy Sandy for urgent needs. “It comes down to the fact that they got these knocks,” said Lederman, the nurse. “I think it could be a psychological disaster — at the very least — if nobody at all came for six days.”
No doubt the strategy of Occupy Sandy's emergency response will be examined for some time to come, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the movement's "teach-in" sessions become even more popular and in demand.
(Satire) This photo labled "Even out of fly-fishing season, Mitt was known to hone his angling skills among Detroit’s poor," shows his early disconnect from America's not-so-wealthy, taunting a homeless man with a dollar bill on a fishing line? It's damn near sociopathic.
Wow. Mitt Romney showing his um, true "character."
Imagine this: as the election winds to a close, Vanity Fair uncovers a shoe box of old yearbook photos, newspaper clippings, and snapshots of a teenaged Mitt Romney. Our source is a disgruntled employee in the Romney-family stables who insisted that she be referred to only as “R.R.” before handing us the previously unseen images. In them, a very recognizable Mitt goofs off with friends and engages in the kinds of pranks for which he is well remembered from his days at the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His now familiar childhood grin is on full display as he mocks gay classmates, slips a teacher a Mickey, and even fires a beloved school janitor. That Mitt! Such a goof! A handsome, wealthy goof!
There's a photo of a young Romney -- and remember, he's over 18-years-old -- attacking a tiny elderly woman who is walking with a cane, pouring bleach into a teacher's coffee mug, a school paper reporting on his efforts to fire a beloved school janitor in order to save costs by outsourcing those services to Canada.
There's even a photo of Romney playing with an Etch-a-Sketch!
"Handsome wealthy goof"? I see only a much clearer picture of the obnoxious arsehole who has been on display during this entire campaign.
One week after the release of secretly taped videos of Mitt Romney from a private fundraiser sent his poll numbers into a tailspin, the Obama campaign is using the controversial comments in a new television commercial that began running Monday.
In the 30 second ad, the narrator gets straight to the point, saying “Mitt Romney attacked 47% of Americans who pay no income tax, including veterans, the elderly and disabled."
The narrator refers to the secret video clips released last Monday in Mother Jones of Romney at a private fundraiser in Florida in May. The material, recorded without the candidate’s knowledge, showed the Republican challenger telling the audience that 47% of voters are dependent on the government, see themselves as victims, and would “vote for the president no matter what.”
One of the clips is incorporated in the new spot. “My job is not to worry about those people,” Romney says while standing at the podium.
The narrator then asks viewers “Doesn’t the President have to worry about everyone?”
“Mitt Romney paid just 14.1 percent in taxes last year,” says the narrator, claiming that “he keeps millions in Bermuda and the Cayman islands.”
The spot ends with the narrator saying "Maybe instead of attacking others on taxes, Romney should come clean on his."
Just don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen!
Paul Ryan is the mastermind behind the extreme GOP budget plan. It's a plan Mitt Romney endorses.
But what does that budget mean for America? The GOP budget plan hurts seniors, it hurts middle-class families, and it hurts students. All to pay for tax cuts for those at the top..
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: back to the failed top-down policies that crashed our economy.
Paul Ryan’s top-down budget plan is a sham
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney both support trillions in budget-busting tax cuts for millionaires that will result in tax hikes on the middle class and deep cuts in education and other investments we need to grow. Ryan’s extreme budget plan, which Mitt Romney has embraced, would make deep spending cuts now to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, which would weaken the recovery and cost the economy jobs.
According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Liebman, based on Mitt Romney’s own projections on the impact of deep spending cuts on the economy, Paul Ryan’s budget plan could cost the U.S. more than 1 million jobs.
Paul Ryan’s plan would raise taxes on the middle class and cut taxes for the wealthy
Ryan’s extreme budget plan would benefit the wealthy while raising taxes on middle-class families, slowing our economic recovery and hurting seniors and the middle class.
Deep tax giveaways for the wealthy:
Paul Ryan’s extreme budget includes a tax “reform” plan that would make the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, and give millionaires an additional tax cut worth over $250,000 a year. Paying for these tax cuts for the most fortunate families would require higher taxes on the middle class, gutting investments in our future, and ending Medicare as we know it.
Raise taxes on the middle class:
Just like Mitt Romney’s tax plan, middle-class families could pay thousands of dollars more a year in taxes to help fund tax cuts for millionaires. Ryan would cut or eliminate middle-class tax deductions like mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and health premiums.
Paul Ryan’s plan would gut middle-class investments
To pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest, Paul Ryan would gut investments critical to middle-class security.
This includes cutting Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students, cutting clean energy investments by 19%, and slowing scientific and medical research by eliminating tens of thousands of grants.
Paul Ryan’s plan would end Medicare as we know it
Paul Ryan’s extreme budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program which would increase seniors’ health costs by $6,350 a year. Ryan has also proposed a plan that would have privatized Social Security, subjecting seniors’ retirement security to the whims of the stock market.
Paul Ryan is severely conservative
Like Mitt Romney, Ryan’s severely conservative positions are out of touch with most Americans’ values. He would take us backward on women’s health and equal rights.
Paul Ryan would take us backward on women’s health:
Ryan cosponsored a bill that could ban in-vitro fertilization, as well as many common forms of birth control, including the pill. It could also ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. He supported letting states prosecute women who have abortions and doctors who perform them.
Paul Ryan would take us backward on equal rights:
Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight for equal pay for equal work. He voted against repealing the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and supports writing discrimination into the Constitution by amending it to ban gay marriage.
If this isn't enough information on Paul Ryan, and what Romney & Ryan would mean for America, let me sum it up briefly:
Note: No senior citizens were harmed in the making of this video.
Former "ER" star Noah Wyle was among 100 protesters arrested on Capitol Hill Monday during a demonstration urging Congress not to cut Medicaid. The AP reports that the protesters were affiliated with ADAPT, a disability rights organization.
Wyle, who was a regular on the long-running popular NBC hospital drama until 2005, has been active with a number of causes and organizations, from Doctors of the World to the Worldwide Wildlife Fund. He also served as a spokesman for Cover the Uninsured, an organization pushing for health insurance to be provided to the more than 40 million Americans, including children, who are without coverage.
Wyle is the second "ER" actor to be arrested in D.C. for a good cause recently. In March, George Clooney was arrested at a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy.
I've lost count of the number of reports I've read in recent years of an elderly person facing the trauma of losing their home to foreclosure and being taken by ambulance to the hospital on eviction day due to the effects of stress on their physical health. Or those who would rather end their own lives rather than face the possibility of being put out on the streets in their senior years.
The story of 78-year-old Helen Bailey is especially poignant this Black History Month, as she was active in the civil rights movement and marched with Martin Luther King.
Change.org has started a petition calling on Chase Bank to make a settlement with Ms. Bailey, and cancel any scheduled foreclosure auction:
Helen Bailey is a 78-year-old grandmother who participated in the civil rights movement, worked as a childcare provider for autistic children, and was a community volunteer. She has paid her mortgage since 1999, but now she can't keep up the payments. All she wants is to stay in her home until she dies, in the neighborhood where she feels safe and has lived for nearly quarter of a century. She could have refinanced with a company willing to let her live in the house for free until her death, but Chase Bank would not reduce her principal by $9,000. She's been paying 7% interest, well above most rates, so Chase could have decided they had made enough. Instead, they have started foreclosure and Ms. Bailey could end on the street.
Since then, Ms. Bailey's lawyer has found an alternate buyer for her home. This sale would provide Ms Bailey with an exit from her current mortgage and allow her to pursue other options for housing. We request that Chase:
· accept the offer of $85,000
· write off any deficiency between the loan balance and the offer
· waive all interest, legal fees and penalties accrued since the initial refinance offer
· cancel any foreclosure auction scheduled
It has been estimated that at foreclosure, Chase may lose over $30,000 compared to this settlement offer. Therefore this option makes the most sense financially for Chase and given Ms Bailey's specific circumstances, there is little moral hazard in this solution.
If you'd like to add your name to the petition calling on Chase to keep Ms. Bailey in her home, you may do so online here.
Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.
Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.
Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.
It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.
Creating an explanation for the new ID laws, as Republicans don't generally want to actually say the purpose is to turn away voters, they've claimed the stricter laws are "to prevent voter fraud." However, this explanation falls flat since there is almost no voter fraud in the nation to prevent.
The stricter voter ID laws aren't just having a negative impact on the rights of students to vote: Think Progressreports that "A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations."
"Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate."