Obama’s Saturday Night Massacre

Obama once said he’d be a one term President if it meant doing what was right for the country.  He will be a one term President because he failed to do what is right for the country.   The “compromise” forged last night is horrendous and will hurt the economy, devastate seniors and the disabled, jeopardize our national defense and kill jobs.  How is it that poison pills like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid only appear when the White House is involved?  This “compromise” includes NO revenue hikes.  No new taxes are in the bill, we will see $2.8 trillion in cuts to fund tax cuts for the rich and for corporations.

How do you think this Super Committee will find $2.8 trillion to cut without gutting Social Security and Medicare?  It can’t be done.  The penalty if they don’t is a Balanced Budget Amendment, the ultimate poison pill.  It’s time to call everyone in Washington, your Congressperson, Senators and the White House and express your outrage.  Then go to your county courthouse and leave your Party.  If they see a mass migration of voters to non affiliated status it will get their attention.  Then refuse to give any more money to any Party affiliated organization or candidate/elected official who votes for this monstrosity.  It’s time to take to the streets people.

‘Pssst. Hotdogs Ten Bucks Each’

“Pssst.”

           I walked straight ahead, looking neither right nor left in a darkened alley illuminated by a half-moon.

           “Pssst.”

           I quickened my pace, but there was no avoiding the shadowy figure.

           “Ain’t gonna harm ya. Jus’ wanna sell ya somethin’.”

           I hesitated, shaking. Stepping in front of me, he shoved a hotdog under my nose. “Ten bucks each,” he whispered ominously through his throat.

           “Ten bucks?!” I asked, astonished at the cost.

           “You want it or not?”

           With Michele Obama (who chose to attack obesity rather than poverty, worker exploitation, or even hunger and malnutrition), supported by publicity-hungry legislators, hotdogs were the latest feel-good food to come under assault. A medical association whose members are vegans had spent $2,750 to place a billboard message near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The picture showed four grilled hot dogs sticking out of a cigarette box that had a skull and crossbones symbol on its face. An oversized label next to the box informed motorists and fans of the upcoming Brickyard 400, “Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health.” The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claimed that just one hot dog eaten daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

           The Committee isn’t the only one destroying Americans’ rights to eat junk food. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which seems to come up with a new toxic food every year, once declared theatre popcorn unhealthy.  Many schools banned soda machines. Back in 2011, McDonald’s reduced the number of french fries in its Happy Meal and substituted a half-order of some abomination known as applies. Even cigarette company executives, trying to look professorial at a Congressional hearing, once said that smoking cigarettes was no worse than eating Twinkies. However, smoking a Twinkie could cause heart and lung diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

           Nevertheless, in Michele Obama’s second term as First Anti-Fat Lady, I was desperate for my daily fix of hot dogs, and my would-be supplier knew it. I leaped at my stalking shadowy figure with the miracle junk.

           “Not so fast!” he growled, pulling the hotdog away. “Let’s see your bread.”

           “I don’t have any bread,” I pleaded. “Not since a zoologist at Penn concluded that hummingbirds that ate two loaves of bread a day got constipation.”

           “Not that bread, turkey! Bread! Lettuce!”

           “I haven’t eaten lettuce in three years since the government banned it for having too many pesticides, and the heads that remained were eaten by pests.”

           The man closed his trench coat and began to leave.

           “Wait!” I pleaded, digging into my pockets. “I’ve got change.”

           He laughed, contemptuously. “That’s not even coffee money.”

           “I don’t drink coffee,” I mumbled. “Not since the government arrested Juan Valdez and his donkey for being unhealthy influences on impressionable minds.”

           I grabbed for his supply of hotdogs, each disguised in a plain brown wrapper, each more valuable than a banned rap record. He again pulled them away.

           “I ain’t no Salvation Army. You want ‘dogs, you pay for ‘dogs. I got thousands who will.”

           “I need a fix. You can’t let me die out here on the streets.”

           “If it was just me, I’d do it. But there’s the boys. They keep the records. If I give you a ‘dog and bun, and don’t get no money, they’ll break two of my favorite fingers. I don’t cross nobody. And I don’t give it away.”

           “Please,” I begged. “I need a ‘dog. It’s all I have left to live for. I don’t care about colorectal cancer. Without hotdogs, my life is over. You can’t let me die out here on the streets.” He shrugged, and so I suddenly got bold. “Give me a ‘dog,” I demanded, “or I’ll tell everyone you have the stuff. You won’t be able to meet the demand. The masses will tear you apart like a plump frank.”

           “You wouldn’t do that to a guy just trying to make a buck, would you?”

           “Two ‘dogs with mustard and onions, and I keep my mouth shut. No ‘dogs and I scream like a fire engine.” He had no choice.

           Walking away, he stopped, turned back, and called after me-“Tomorrow. This corner. This time. Two ‘dogs. Twenty bucks. I’ll see you every night.”

           I didn’t reply. He knew he had me.

[Rosemary Brasch, who likes hotdogs, assisted on this column. Walter Brasch says he prefers hamburgers, but will defend to the death the right of Americans to eat what they want. His latest book is Before the First Snow, a look at a part of America, as seen by a “flower child” and the reporter who covered her story for more than three decades, beginning in the 1960s.]

News & Notes July 29, 2011

Congress still hasn’t addressed the debt ceiling issue.  The House is set to vote on Speaker Boehner’s plan at 7 pm after which it will be DOA in the Senate.  Why are they wasting time chasing windmills?  Why doesn’t Nancy Pelosi come up with a clean debt ceiling bill which would be supported by Democrats and enough sane Republicans and send it to the Senate?

Daryl Metcalfe, ALEC’s chief agent in Pennsylvania, was caught collecting per diems while attending an ALEC conference.  Per diems are supposed to cover legislator’s expenses while working in Harrisburg…for us not organizations like ALEC.  Sam Rohrer suddenly forgot all of his principles and agreed with Metcalfe’s theft of public funds.

Congressman Darrell Issa who began investigating Democrats as soon as Republicans got control back of the House should be investigating himself for corruption.  He has obtained earmarks which directly benefit his own business interests.  That’s as corrupt as it gets.

Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois has been everywhere lately decrying the government for not being able to pay its debts and demanding default.  He knows all about default having failed to pay $117,000 in child support.  Deadbeat is as deadbeat does?

May he/she without any personal debt be the first to throw stones about the national debt.  Everyone has some debt even if it is short term.  Families no more live within their incomes than government.  Some things have to be mortgaged like homes and capital projects.  Republicans chose to defund government, fight wars on the dole and collapse revenues through financial deregulation.  It’s time to pay their piper and they’re turning into deadbeats.  It turns out Tea baggers actually do believe in debt.

A domestic terror attack got almost no mention in national news week but someone threw a Molotov cocktail at a Planned Parenthood clinic in McKinney, Texas.

Truthout reports on news about how the 2004 presidential election was hacked and rigged in Ohio.  A firm called Gov Tech was hired by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and provided access tot he state’s election computer system.  On election night tabulations were manipulated straight from the White House through Gov Tech and Ohio turned for Bush.

State Cuts to Education, Health Care Will Slow Recovery

( – promoted by John Morgan)

A blog post from Christopher Lilienthal, originally published on Third and State.

We have written about the negative impact that deep cuts to state funding will have for Pennsylvania children, seniors and our economy. Now a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that we aren’t alone.

At least 38 of the 47 states with new 2011-12 budgets are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services, according to the report. As Policy Analyst Erica Williams writes at the Center’s Off the Charts Blog:

While states continue to face rising numbers of children enrolled in public schools, students enrolled in universities, and seniors eligible for health and long-term care services, most states (37 of 44 states for which data are available) plan to spend less on services in 2012 than they spent in 2008, adjusted for inflation – in some cases, much less.

State lawmakers no doubt faced tough decisions this year, with revenues still far below pre-recession levels and emergency federal aid all but expired. Still, our review shows that the cuts are unnecessarily harmful, unbalanced, and counterproductive.

Pennsylvania is among that group spending less in 2012 than in 2008 (adjusted for inflation):

Most States' FY12 Spending Below Pre-Recession Levels

Few states took a balanced approach to budget shortfalls. Only five states – Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, and Illinois – raised new revenues in addition to making spending cuts, the report finds.

The impact goes well beyond the families, children and seniors who will be directly affected by service losses. As Erica Williams writes:

The cuts-only approach that most states have taken will slow the recovery and weaken the nation’s economy over the long term. State and local governments already have shed 577,000 jobs since August 2008; another round of cuts will lead to further job loss in the months ahead. The cuts will also lead states to cancel contracts with vendors, reduce payments to businesses and nonprofits that provide services, and cut benefit payments to individuals – all steps that remove demand from the economy. And, by diminishing the quality of elementary and high schools, making college less affordable, and reducing residents’ access to health care, states threaten to make the U.S. economy less competitive in coming decades.

Voters Are Bailing on Obama

Barack Obama’s support among his core minority constituencies is quickly eroding.  African-Americans are especially troubling with poll numbers now around 50% on his jobs record.  Hispanic support is also disappearing as the President slashes more and more critical social programs supporting poor and working Americans.  His prime focus on bailing out Wall Street instead of main Street resulted in a mass loss of 87 House seats in 2010 but instead of concentrating on aiding the poor, working people, children and the elderly he turned around and began cutting their programs to mollify the rich, white Republicans in Congress.

The current debt ceiling crisis now finds him putting major cuts to Social Security on the table while a cent of $700/year in Pentagon spending is touched.  White liberals bailed on Obama already and with Blacks and Hispanics now showing rapidly declining support he seems doomed to be a one term President.

A surge of Black voters in 2008 along with young people elected Obama with a clear plurality.  Now with overall approval numbers under 50% (42%-47%) and high disapproval figures he would lose if the election were held this summer.  His actions during the debt ceiling negotiations are eroding that support even more.  The people who voted in 2008 will join the other 50% of Americans on the sidelines in 2012 and not vote at all if their choices are Obama versus a Republican.  If Democrats want to keep the White House they need to find another candidate.  He would lose Pennsylvania if the election were held today.

Those polls are even more ominous for the president: In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak. In most of them, he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. For all the talk of a closely fought 2012 election, if Obama can’t turn around his fortunes in states such as Michigan and New Hampshire, next year’s presidential election could end up being a GOP landslide.

On April 7th the LA Times reported the first significant slides in this voter demographic:  in March Black support fell seven points and 11% among Hispanics.  Only about half of African-American voters now approve of the President’s effort on creating jobs.  That is the number one issue among voters and will likely drive their decisions in 2012.  

George W. Bush understood the importance of pleasing his base.  Barack Obama, since he first took office, has worked to disenfranchise his.  His policies of cutting spending, escalating the war in Afghanistan, starting a war in Libya, continuing torture, not closing Guantanamo, and aggressively cutting the social safety net has exasperated his liberal base.  Inaction on repealing DADT lost him the LGBT vote and when you begin cobbling together a winning coalition Obama has lost the support he needs for re-election.

Democrats can either find a primary challenger or sit on the sidelines and watch an independent such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont siphon off their traditional voters.  If the race comes down to Obama/Romney the Republican will win.  A third candidate would guarantee that outcome.  Obama has a short window in which to shore up his base and any cuts to Social Security during the debt ceiling negotiations will insure his failure as a president and land him in the bottom rung of presidents.  No one on or approaching retirement age will vote for a man who cut Social Security.  A viable third party hasn’t seen such a golden opportunity since the Republicans replaced the Whigs.

What was the primary issue on which Obama ran in 2008?  He spent fifteen minutes of his stump speech promising to change Washington.  I can see Republicans playing those clips over and over next year and ripping him for his colossal failure to do so.  I said at the time he was pandering to voters and I was correct.  The best thing Barack Obama can do now is step aside and do an LBJ.

More Analysis of Pa.’s June Jobs Report

A blog post from Mark Price, originally published on Third and State.

As I said last week, Pennsylvania’s June jobs report raises several concerns about the fragile economic recovery. It was the second month in a row of job losses, with total nonfarm employment dropping by 2,600 jobs.

Taking into account June’s poor performance, the Commonwealth has added an average of just over 2,600 jobs a month in the second quarter. That’s  down from the 9,700 jobs per month the Commonwealth added in the first quarter of this year. The Keystone Research Center has a full analysis here.

State level payroll and unemployment numbers should always be viewed with some caution as monthly volatility can obscure trends. But it is clear that weakness in the national economy in the second quarter slowed job growth in Pennsylvania.

While the economy is still growing and adding jobs, the slower pace of job growth is quite troubling given that the labor market in Pennsylvania remains more than 240,000 jobs short of full employment.

Employment in Pennsylvania remains more than 240,000 jobs below full employment

Our Norwegian Sorrow

The death toll in Noway was corrected downward yesterday but the tragedy facing that very civilized country remains great.  Anders Breivik was in court and pled not guilty to the bombing in Oslo which killed eight and a 90 minute shooting rampage in which another 76 people lost their lives.  The Christian Terrorist planned and organized his day of terror so he could gain publicity for his racist, extremist views.  Interestingly many American right wing hate media sites initially blamed the bombing on Muslim terrorists.  

Breivik targeted liberals in a society known for its liberalism.  Fired up by hate rhetoric partially originating here in the U.S. and growing out of the Christian versus Muslim hysteria created by President Bush, VP Cheney and their cohorts used to justify the Iraq War, Breivik was angry at the refugees immigrating to Noway.  Some of them, ironically, were from Iraq, fleeing the death and destruction of Bush’s war.

One of the most heinous reactions since Friday has been that of Glenn Beck who is seemingly excusing or justifying the murderous rampage since its victims were liberals.  He has equated them with the Hitler Youth in saying it was OK to target them for a massacre.  Of course this is like gunning down everyone at a Young Democrats gathering and justifying it by saying they were Hitler Youth.  Beck knows no human decency.  This is yet another example of News Corporation’s high ethical standards.

We feel deep sorrow for our Norwegian friends and apologize for American extremists who incited your Anders Breivik.   We feel your pain and seek to gain an example from you about how to deal with domestic terrorism with dignity and compassion.

The Deficit Crisis is in Jobs

Republicans continue spreading the lie that tax cuts create jobs despite all facts to the contrary.  Tax cuts have cost us millions of jobs since 2001.  President Clinton’s deficit reduction plan which entailed tax increases created 22 million jobs.  Since Barack Obama began capitulating to extreme elements of the conservative movement half a million public sector jobs have disappeared.  The current debt ceiling debate is centered around the federal budget deficit when the real crisis is a jobs deficit.  We need to be creating jobs, an issue the GOP made central to their 2010 Congressional campaign.  Instead we are cutting government spending.  What is essential to the economic recovery is increasing spending to stimulate job creation and expand the economy.

The federal deficit isn’t the result of government spending but the result of failed Republican policies.  Three major GOP initiatives caused the drastic drop in revenues which caused this deficit:  The Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deregulation of the financial sector.  Republicans put massive tax cuts for the rich on our national credit card then loaded it up with debt from the wars.  They refused to pay for either of those programs (add in the Medicare Part D prescription program for good measure) and then refused to properly regulate Wall Street.  The global financial collapse cut tax revenues to the bone.  Now that the bill is due they are refusing to pay.

You cannot run up your credit line then simply walk away from your debts if you believe in personal responsibility.  They already saddled taxpayers with bailing out their Wall Street friends and now they’re going to jeopardize our national credit because they won’t pay their bills.  China has already lost hundreds of billions though the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing which increased the money supply by creating three trillion new dollars from thin air.  The $1.6 billion used in QE 1 & 2 equals the current annual deficit.  Instead of making that and giving it to the Treasury Department to balance the budget they gave it to banks, many of them foreign, to buy the toxic mortgage securities Congress refused to regulate.

We need jobs, not deficit reduction.  President Obama is on the wrong path and Democrats will pay mightily for his failures.  I recall vowing never to vote for another Republican, for any office, after WhiteWater and the Lewinsky scandals when they wasted $60 million trying to impeach Clinton for a consensual blow job.  I have kept that vow.  If Obama cuts Medicare and/or Social Security I will never again vote for any Democratic candidate for any office.  Anywhere.  I will vote strictly for third party progressives or write in suitable names.  I will vote for Bernie Sanders for President in 2012.  Mess with my Social Security and you lose me for life.

W-B Airport Project Halted by Congress

A stop work order was issued by the FAA for an $18 million air traffic control tower at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport because of inaction by Congress.  Funds weren’t renewed and on Saturday all FAA projects around the nation came to an abrupt halt.  The country’s air traffic control facilities are extremely outdated and efforts to rebuild this critical infrastructure have now been halted.  4,000 FAA employees are now without pay in 35 states though the Agency says the safety of the flying public will not be compromised.  

“Construction workers across America will lose their jobs and local communities will be hurt the longer this goes on. Congress needs to pass an FAA bill to prevent further economic damage,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”

“Unless Congress acts quickly, more work on projects critical to our nation’s aviation system will come to a halt. Work is stopping on construction and planning projects, NextGen system testing, and airport certification.  The list goes on and on and this is just the beginning,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton facility serves both the 10th and 11th Congressional Districts represented by Tea Party newcomers Lou Barletta and Tom Marino respectively.  These two are also blocking funding the federal government and driving powerful cuts in vital services.  Both voted for the radical and extreme Cut, Cap and Destroy Act last week which would slash Medicare and Social Security and put our national security in jeopardy.  I suppose, compared with that, an $18 million air traffic control tower is nothing.  The people of their Districts might disagree however.

Casey Hosts Small Business Seminar

Sen. Bob Casey’s staff hosted a seminar in Bethlehem for small business persons interested in learning how to seek government contracts.  The state and federal governments (both were represented) contract with private businesses for all sorts of products and services and GSA Regional Administrator David Ehrenwerth spoke to the group and answered questions along with several other experts.  I spoke with the Pennsylvanian about the General Services Administration and what it does:

Other speakers included George Murray with the Small Business Administration, Chris Jones of Lehigh University’s (the seminar was at its Mountaintop Campus) Small Business Development Center, Ed Brill of Brill Worldwide Investments and John McGeehan of Gaver Industries, Inc.  Sen. Casey spoke via video and the event was hosted by Michelle Griffin Young of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Agencies had tables set up so attendees could speak with them directly and begin establishing relationships which are key to success.  The speakers I watched were extremely knowledgeable and provided important information about how government contracting works and how to establish relationships, set specifications, remain a contractor and being expanding business in this manner.  The room was full and I saw many of those in attendance taking notes.  I spoke with a number of them following the event and all said they got a lot from the event.

Senator Casey’s staff did a nice job organizing this and it went off well.  This is the second such event they’ve conducted and they expect to do one in western Pennsylvania next and hope to expand it with some specialized seminars for women, minorities and veterans.  Reaching out to small business is wise because it generates new jobs, expands the economy and illustrates that Democrats are there for small business.  I covered similar events conducted by former Congressman Joe Sestak and they are very useful.  This is constituent service on a large scale.