Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cutting the Deficit and Cutting Off Our Noses

How can anyone who has been paying attention the past ten years not be able to figure out what has been happening in Washington. They can now spout words like "Obamacare", and huge figures off the tops of their heads that don't really mean anything except more confusion for the American public. Politicians play on people's emotions and constantly point fingers at the other side to lay blame for the mess they have got us in. In the back of my mind I always feel there is something "missing" they aren't telling us... or they are twisting the facts to make their side look "better". These politicians know they are only acting. And not with the welfare of the average American in mind. Most of all, they are trying to ensure their own political future! They are playing to their supporters in hopes that they will be re-elected. I would say that is especially true of the newly elected Tea Party members. 

With a little research on the Internet, one can come up with some realistic facts and figures like the ones below. Even without being an economist or having a degree in math, it seems pretty obvious how we got ourselves into the current financial mess. Of course, we need to reduce the deficit! But for those who argue that suspending the tax cuts implemented during the Bush administration will stop the creation of new jobs... Well! I ask, where have those jobs been since the cuts were implemented?? The tax cuts didn't stop the financial meltdown, and they don't appear to have helped with new jobs either. I would really like to know how they think cutting back essential programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and even financial aid to college students is going to make up for the nearly two trillion dollars in tax cuts for the major corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and how it is going to benefit the majority of Americans.

I thought equality and the good of the "majority" was the purpose of democracy. I guess I'm naiive. In today's world, the folks with the most money have the most power. And they get the most "benefits". And we all know the statistics about the percentage of people who have the highest percentage of wealth in the U.S. That certainly is not a "majority".  But they seem to control the majority in Washington making the policy and decisions for the rest of us in this country today.

The Bible says, "To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.". (Luke 12:48) And Jesus also said, "Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's.." (Matt. 22:21) when asked about paying taxes. How can anyone -- no matter their belief -- think it is unfair for those in our country who are the most privileged and powerful to pay at least as much in income taxes as their secretaries? (Warren Buffett is quoted as saying he pays less than his secretary.) If suspending those tax cuts and loopholes will help the citizens in this country, and keep our government running, why is everyone not asking their representatives to do something about it? I have consistently let mine know where I stand on these and other important issues. The fact that I get form letters back full of party rhetoric and toots on their own horn lets me know that they don't care what this little grandmother in Texas thinks! I didn't vote them into office, and will not vote for their re-election. Surely, some of us working together can be as powerful as the conservatives were in the last election.
Obama’s and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph

"What’s also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama’s major expenses were temporary — the stimulus is over now — while Bush’s were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn’t just lower revenue for 10 years. It’s clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them.

To relate this specifically to the debt-ceiling debate, we’re not raising the debt ceiling because of the new policies passed in the past two years. We’re raising the debt ceiling because of the accumulated effect of policies passed in recent decades, many of them under Republicans. It’s convenient for whichever side isn’t in power, or wasn’t recently in power, to blame the debt ceiling on the other party. But it isn’t true."
Here is another graph, this one courtesy of the U.S. Treasury, showing to whom the U.S. owes money!

Social Security is in the crosshairs of the debt negotiations currently going on in Washington. This, even though Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the deficit — it shouldn’t be in the discussions. Rather than adding to the deficit, Social Security is a creditor of the United States, just like China is. Of the $14.3 trillion the federal government currently owes its creditors, $2.7 trillion of that is owed to the Social Security Trust Funds." (Nancy Altman, co-chair of the Strengthen S.S. Campaign)
It has been almost a year since I went on my last "news fast". What happens in Congress the next few days is so critical, I will continue to be a worry wart, and haunt the news sites on the Web and even check in on the Cable news programs (not FOX, of course!). As soon as I know whether or not the programs that help me and a lot of seniors I know, are going to be cut, I intend to once again "fast"!
Much has been flowing to me along the lines of wholeness -- accepting the "shadow" in our personal lives, and knowing the necessity of contrasts in order for our world to exist. One book in particular covers this, "The Shadow Effect". I was surprised to see it in my local library, which is usually filled with the latest conservative books.. or the latest in the romance or vampire series. It is a compilation of writings by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. The message I am getting after only a few chapters can relate to the "duality" of the debates going on in Washington. No matter which side you are on, you feel your side is right and the other is wrong -- or the "shadow". There must be integration and acceptance of both sides for our nation to obtain a sense of unity and wholeness again.
Guess I'll close with a little humor about "causes" in the U.S. We all have our favorites, but the guys have the gals beat!
Until next time, please consider donating to your favorite charity to help the pitiful victims of famine in Somalia. Watch the slideshow at the top of the page. Your heart will be touched. I read on one site a nasty comment from someone who said we have "children starving in America", and we should save our money for them! If you truly believe there are starving children in America, please donate to one of the many wonderful organizations across the country who are doing everything they can to eliminate even the slightest bit of hunger here. Even in a town as small as ours, less than 7,000 people, we have three different groups offering free hot meals for the hungry, lonely, or anyone who wishes to eat with us. I cannot believe there are people anywhere in the U.S. who are as desperate as these people in Africa. Even $5, if multiplied by thousands or millions of people, will save lives.

With love, peace, and hope for our future,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A letter from one of your constituents...

A good friend of mine sent the following letter that one of her bridge partners sent to his Representatives from Oklahoma. I asked permission to post it here, as it says so eloquently what many of us in America feel about what is going on in our country today -- in particular, the changes in our political scene. I had June request permission from the author of this letter to use it here, as well as a good portion of it to use to send to our own Representatives in Washington. He kindly agreed, and even allowed the use of his name.

If any of you feel the same, we would love to hear from you. I have permission to send you Mr. McGee's email address if you wish to address him personally. Perhaps you would like to use all or a portion of this letter to send to your own Representatives. Here it is in its entirety. 
"Senator ____, and/or Representative _____

I hope you actually take the time to read this message. I am a 74 year old voter in your state and until four years ago I was a registered Republican. The Republican party has changed until I can no longer support their agenda. I am now a registered Independent. I have voted in all elections since I reached age 21! I have served my country thru my service in the military and volunteer organizations. I have worked and lived in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, so I am familiar with other cultures and governments. 

I have seen the results of distorted wealth distribution and political power on people and nations. I am deeply concerned about the current concentration of American wealth and power into the hands of fewer and fewer people and corporations. Especially people and organizations that never seem to get enough power or wealth and have no moral inclination to share that wealth and control with those who are most often at the bottom of the economic ladder in the United States. We claim to be a Christian nation but we do not walk the talk. How can we allow millionaires and major corporations to pay little or no tax and then take maximum tax money from the poor and middle class! 

It appears to me that the prime objective of the Republican party is to destroy President Obama's presidency not to strengthen or save America. Yes, tax issues need to be addressed, namely tax breaks for millionaires, agribusinesses, oil companies and excessive military costs. The high costs of supporting the federal legislative branch should also be looked at and cuts considered. After those issues have been addressed, then perhaps we can cut back on other costs of running the government and then and only then consider the programs that help the poor, disabled, elderly and our children.

For 66 years I have paid into Social Security and for most of those years I paid the maximum amount. The US government owes me a fair Social Security payment based on the amount I have paid into the government over the years. The fact that the government used that money for other purposes and did not set the money aside for the obligated payments after my retirement is not my problem and I should not have to suffer the consequences because the government squandered the money. The continued COLA adjustment is also justified to protect the retired elderly, since the government seems not to be able to control inflation!

I don't know if anyone in your office will read this, or if you will even know that I took the time to write. But let me assure you, that I will vote in the next election, and I will work to help defeat any candidate who cannot understand the issues I have raised and who takes care of their own, but has no concern for American citizens who are not among the wealthy, lobbyists or major dollar contributors.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I sincerely hope it has given you something to think about.

Bob McGee
Edmond, Oklahoma"
Thank you, Mr. McGee! I told my friend June that it was so refreshing to hear "ordinary citizens" speak out in no uncertain terms about the major issues and problems facing us in the U.S. today. I hope it inspires more of us "ordinary" folks to do the same! I know I intend to hammer home to my own Representatives my feelings regarding their current behavior, and how I will also work to see them voted out of office if they continue in the same vein as today!
Another long-time friend of mine, whom I hadn't seen in many years, asked me a couple of years ago what happened to me. I used to be a staunch Republican -- believe it or not, I even campaigned for Barry Goldwater! (I truly believed he could stop the war in Vietnam!) She could not believe my current "liberal" views and voting record of the past twenty years. "What happened to me?" I laughingly responded, "I grew up!" Unfortunately, she didn't take that remark too kindly. I have thought about her question many times since, and have had a difficult time explaining it to myself. I did not think my belief system had changed that much. I have always been anti-war, pro-civil rights, and pro-women's rights -- I was one of the 50's women who suffered all the indignities of women of our generation: unequal pay, sexual discrimination in hiring and promotion, sexual harrassment, and even age discrimination!  After reading Mr. McGee's letter, in plain and simple terms, I realized he is right on target: It's the Republican Party that has changed!! I have voted as a Democrat for over twenty years now. But they are also changing, and are not as representative of the average citizen in America! We need to let the members of both parties know our displeasure, and where we stand on the issues. Corporate America and the super rich are not representative of the majority of Americans.
This Grandmommy still has little ones visiting. I am constantly reminded of the fact that their futures are in our hands. 

Peace, love, and hope for the future,


Monday, July 18, 2011


Rupert Murdoch was recently quoted as saying they were "telling lies" in Parliament about his corporation. Hummph! That's funny considering the lies, twisted truths, and biases his FOX News channel spouts all the time.

I have NEVER intentionally watched a FOX News program, but have been visiting at homes -- in particular, my Dad's -- where that is the only news channel they watch. Being forced to hear some of the dribble coming out of the TV at those times shocked me at first. Then I realized what I was hearing was standard fare for FOX programming. I began to do research and discovered I was not the only one who spotted all the inaccuracies and out and out lies they espouse. As I learned more about the owner, Rupert Murdoch, and his extremely conservative views, I read that he demanded that his slant on politics be the standard for their reporting. This has been verified by many ex-employees of his many media outlets. This has been particularly noticeable in the "editorial" and "opinion" type programming of the FOX channels. Some that I happened to see were absolutely horrific! 
Glenn Beck comes to mind. Thank goodness, he finally has been taken off television, although I'm pretty certain he has audiences somewhere.. maybe talk radio. I remember a video clip I saw on the web where Beck was pictured with vampires in the background, fangs dripping blood, and he was calling the Democrats vampires. "You know the only way to get rid of a vampire, don't you?", he said. "By putting a stake through the heart!" I was aghast that this was allowed on television for all the Jared Loughner's in this country to watch and be riled up by. You remember, Loughner's the one who shot Congresswoman Gifford and others in Arizona? A paid political ad during that time by Sarah Palin showed bullseye crosshairs over a map of Arizona, supposedly targeting Democrats to defeat, probably didn't help keep the crazies at bay. Congresswoman Gifford was one of those targeted.

For the most part, though, it is the day-to-day, repetitive broadcasting of popular hosts pounding in the rhetoric and political agenda of the far right that is influencing so many Americans on the most popular news network. This is what the billionaire, power hungry Rupert Murdoch has been working towards. It is now obvious from all the events unfolding in Great Britain that he and his vast teams of employees have been willing to go to any lengths to gather "news". And the amount of power and influence he has been wielding over politicians and even Scotland Yard and the police force there is scary. I hope the inquiries and arrests expose the extent of Murdoch's "empire" and its purpose. Those who broke the law -- no matter how important their positions in either the government, law enforcement, or Murdoch's own businesses -- need to be punished for all the world to see. Maybe it will help break the spell he has held over so many American viewers.

This is from an article I recently read on the Internet that pretty much sums up my view of Murdoch's enterprises:

"..The Murdochs call News Corporation a journalistic enterprise. In fact, it is, first, an entertainment company, with the bulk of its revenue coming from its film and television holdings. Second, and more importantly, it is a propaganda machine for right-wing causes and political figures.

This is News Corporation’s main face in the US, in the form of Fox News, whose hallmark has been relentless propagation of right-wing ideology. Whereas political propaganda had once been the domain of governments and political parties, Fox News is formally independent of both – though it overwhelmingly serves the interests of America’s Republican Party.

In Britain, News Corporation has been creating a sort of state unto itself by corrupting the police, assuming police powers of surveillance, and intimidating politicians into looking the other way. In the US, it has behaved similarly, using corporate media power to breathe life into a stand-alone political organization, the Tea Party..." Truthout.. July 13, 2011

From an Oct. 2008 article:

Conde Naste’s Portfolio Magazine has compiled a list of billionaires ranked by their charitable donations. The Generosity Index itemizes fifty of the wealthiest individuals as donors, relative to their wealth. Coming in fiftieth is the miserly media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that (this) uber-conservative, Republican monopolist, should finish LAST in expressions of charity....” He is certainly not to be admired for his philanthropy. I would believe a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates stance on current issues before I would credit anything put out by Murdoch. I find nothing redeemable in the character of this despicable man.

I was not surprised to read that Canada has an obscure law that prohibits giving false or misleading information on broadcast news, but the U.S, doesn't. Perhaps we need something along that line -- or at least require news broadcasters to better identify their programming as "editorial opinions" rather than just "hard facts" news reporting. Something FOX does not do. People like my dad take everything they report as the "fair and balanced", unbiased truth!

Another recent article about ethics in journalism:
"There is no licensing authority for journalists as there is for lawyers or doctors, but the Society of Professional Journalists puts forth a set of ethical standards, though it has no means to enforce them. First among them is: 'Deliberate distortion is never permissible.' It should go without saying, but there it is.

The rest of the standards touch on basic tenets of honesty (don’t fabricate, mislead, deceive, silence opposing views), humanity (show compassion, respect and sensitivity to subjects who have undergone trying or traumatic events), and integrity (avoid conflicts of interest and disclose those that cannot be avoided).

That’s not too much to ask, is it? Seek the truth as best you can determine it, go about it with candor and compassion, and do so 'without fear or favor' -- a phrase attributed to New York Times patriarch Adolph Ochs, conveying independence and impartiality.

It remains the controlling principle in most of the news media, but too often, editorial decisions are made that bring the entire profession into disrepute. And that harms not just the journalists, but the rest of us, too, as our discourse is steeped in distrust, cynicism and vitriol." (Dave Saldana, YES!)
by rmay
But these standards, as well as any legalities that stand in their way, are obviously ignored by Murdoch's News Corporation. I wonder what on earth this man has been aspiring to! Does he wish to be President of the World? Does he think his political views should be believed and enforced by all? Does he really think he is above the law? God help us all if his influence is so entrenched in the United States that he and the corporations who support his efforts to change politics in this country succeed!
I have my two youngest grandchildren this week. We are already enjoying ourselves. I hope they don't get too bored with all the hot weather keeping us indoors so much. We are planning to make decorations for our bodies; then Grandmommy is going to teach them to do a rain dance, complete with rattles and chants. 

Peace, love, and rain to all of you,