Nel's New Day

June 5, 2020

DDT: Week 176 – Only Wealthy Better off

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is happy. The stock market is going up again, thanks to the many trillions of dollars  the government has made available to big corporations and wealthy people. Lockdowns started on March 18, and the nation’s richest people’s wealth increased over $565 billion while 42.6 million workers filed for unemployment. Those 42.6 million people don’t buy stocks. 

May added 2.5 million jobs, two-fifths of them part time and 1.2 million in the poorly-paid hospitality sector. Yet 21.2 million jobs were lost in March and April, and the 13.3 percent unemployment rate is the worst since World War II. The jobs were also for white people, whose unemployment rate went down from 14.2 percent to 12.4 percent: for blacks, unemployment went up from 16.7 to 16.8 percent. DDT called this “a tremendous tribute to equality.” The CBO forecasts unemployment levels above 10 percent for almost a year and doesn’t reflect self-employed people with serious losses and college graduates who had not started looking for jobs. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed out the increase in jobs is propped up by the stimulus money, soon disappearing.

To Yamiche Alcindor, a black woman who reports for PBS NewsHour, who asked him for specifics on a plan to address police violence against blacks, he said, “You are something.” In the above photo, DDT shushes Alcindor.

DDT did, however, put a happy spin about George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer:

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that is happening for our country. This is a great day for him… This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

DDT used the word “great” 55 times during his ramblings. mThe White House also rearranged chairs for the press to put them closely together with no social distancing because “it looked better.” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was right: DDT should stop talking. 

After his campaign rally, DDT headed to another one at a factory in Maine, but all the swabs made during his photo-op there will have to be thrown away. With no mask, he stopped to talk to the workers wearing white lab coats, masks, hair nets and plastic booties. Last month, almost one-third of Maine nursing homes reported they had no nasal swabs for testing, and over 60 percent of the respondents said they had fewer than eight available.  

While in Maine, DDT announced his new task force to crack down on illegally harvested fish and appointed former sexist, racist Gov. Paul LePage as its chair. During the conversation, he asked if the lobsters harvested off Maine are equivalent to those a few miles north off the Canadian coast. And he promised auto tariffs on the EU if it doesn’t lift duties on lobsters imported from the U.S. Tariffs on U.S. lobster, like many other products, came from DDT’s trade wars. DDT also opened a fragile marine conservation area off Cape Cod to commercial fishing, hours after DDT declared himself a “great environmentalist. The change harms the endangered North Atlantic right whale as well as deep-sea coral and sponge gardens thousands of years old. No evidence exists that the conservation area had hurt fishing revenues.

According to a new study, DDT removed protections from almost 35 million acres of public land, about the size of Florida. “President Trump is the only president in U.S. history to have removed more public lands than he protected,” stated the analysis. DDT already removed protections from 16.6 times the land Theodore Roosevelt protected for parks and monuments.

The U.S. Park Police stated it was wrong when he said no tear gas was used to clear protesters so DDT could cross the street.

AG Bill Barr has decided to “flood the zone” by bringing in thousands of unidentified law enforcement to Washington, D.C. Some, found out by wearing shirts and patches, showed they are from two prisons in Texas, one of which has at least five guards with COVID-19 infections. In Washington, DC., they failed to wear masks while close to each other and demonstrators. The Bureau of Prisons confirmed guards dispatched to two cities didn’t wear their uniforms “because they are serving a broader mission.” In a letter to DDT, Washington’s mayor Muriel Bowser wrote:

 “Unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, D.C., pose both safety and national security risks. The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”

In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which passed the House 410-4, because it was so broad it could include “minor bruises.” The Senate could force the bill to the floor, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senior senator from Paul’s state up for re-election this year, doesn’t want to bother. According to the bill, “nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th century,” and “between 1890 and 1952, 7 presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching.”

Two Senate committee chairs planned to deliver subpoenas in an investigation of the origins of the Russia probe and allegations of President Obama’s wrongdoing (aka Obamagate, according to DDT). Ron Johnson (R-WI), elected two years ago and chair of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is moving forward with 30 subpoenas determined by a party line vote. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), vulnerable in his current reelection and chair of the Judiciary Committee, said he’ll wait until next week for a vote on 50 subpoenas.  

In a series of angry tweets, DDT declared he pulled the August WeGOP conference out of Charlotte (NC) in August, but the RNC hasn’t given official notification “regarding its intent for the location of the convention.” The state is moving forward toward opening, already in Phase II, but Gov Roy Cooper—a Democrat—won’t promise the facility open to 20,000 Republicans because of social distance. GOP governors are salivating for the gig with offers in Nashville (TN), Jacksonville and Orlando (FL), Phoenix, and Georgia. Las Vegas is also interested, but Dallas has already turned it down. The RNC said DDT will not accept the Republican nomination in Charlotte. Planners are considering a rolling convention in several cities so DDT can say he had the largest convention ever.

Using the “economic emergency,” DDT signed an executive order waiving long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines, and other projects by limited state environmental reviews. Thus far, DDT has completed 66 rollbacks of environmental protections, and another 34 of them are in progress, most of them related to air pollution and emissions with 11 about water. Wheeler singled out a recent veto of a natural gas pipeline by New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, to block such impacts as damage to aquatic life, downstream impacts, and climate change. The rule follows DDT’s attempt to remove California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards under the Clean Air Act.

DDT is bored with COVID-19; he hasn’t talked to Dr. Anthony Fauci for weeks. Barr plans to solve the health crisis by suspending constitutional rights, among them asking Congress to pass laws allowing people to be indefinitely held without trial. 

The Pentagon is spending most of its $10.6 billion for shipbuilding, submarine launch equipment, missile tube and body armor.

West Point had canceled its in-person graduation this year because of COVID-19 until DDT insisted on giving a commencement address to 1,000 graduates on June 13 in order to perform this ceremony at all service academies. This past week, the Army found asymptomatic infections in 1.5 percent of them. The decision produced protests on the West Point Parents Facebook page.

Unwilling to be seen weak by going to his bunker, DDT has made the White House into a fortress with tall security fencing and concrete barriers for 1.7 miles around the white House. 

On the same day of DDT’s disastrous photo-op at a church, Ivanka Trump, possibly responsible for the tear gas clearing of the Washington, D.C. peaceful protest for her father’s photo-op, tweeted, “Less hate, more love!” for LGBTQ Pride Month. Her responses were less than positive. DDT refuses to issue a Pride proclamation, but his campaign is trying to make money for a MAGA t-shirt with rainbow-colored letters.

DDT, the great opposer of mail-in ballots who always votes by mail, seems to be homeless when it comes to voting. He gave up his home in New York City to declare residency in Florida where he can’t declare Mar-a-Lago as his residence because it’s a club. DDT’s solution was to use the White House as the address for his ballot although he says his residence is in Florida. That’s voter fraud

Barr is so desperate to please his boss he made up a story about foreign countries printing and mailing phony absentee ballots without detection but couldn’t provide evidence. In multiple states, election officials said such a scenario is virtually impossible because of security protections—unique tracking bar codes, tally marks, matching signatures, regulation envelopes, etc.

In the world of COVID-19, the U.S. has 1,965,708 cases and 111,390 deaths on June 5. The small coastal town where I live has picked up 17 new cases since the county began to open and allow tourists. The number is small, but it’s a 170-percent increase over the first three months of cases in the state. Eighteen states have reported spikes in the number of infections.

May 11, 2020

Life Gets Worse for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) held his first press conference since April 27—two weeks ago—and it didn’t go well. He refused to answer a question from an Asian-American reporter who came to Virginia when she was two years old by telling her to ask China. When she asked why, he said she had a “nasty question.” DDT had called on another reporter but then refused to let her ask any questions. When she tried to ask a question, he whirled around and stalked out of the Rose Garden. Journalists had different reasons for this particular meltdown, based on his recent personal problems.

First, COVID-19 invaded the White House in the form of two infected people, three others in self-quarantine, and most of the staffers afraid. DDT is “annoyed” about two staff members testing positive. Yesterday, Kevin Hassett, a top DDT economic adviser, said it’s “scary to go to work” and he’d “be a lot safer” if he stayed at home. He called the White House “a small, crowded place.” Staffers are told to wear masks when they aren’t at their desks and maintain social distancing. DDT still doesn’t wear a mask.

Second, the Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow in three cases about whether DDT is above the law, as he is proud of claiming, and cannot be investigated. In one case, the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed DDT’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for possible fraud in hush money for Stormy Daniels and declaring assets for loans and taxes. Other subpoenas are for Capital One and Deutsche Bank about “questionable financing” of his businesses and whether “any foreign actor” (aka Russia) has “leverage” over him. The last case comes from whether, as president, he can be investigated for violating state law, also involving hush money DDT paid women with whom he had affairs. All the lower courts hearing these cases ruled that a president is not above the law, just as the Supreme Court did 46 years ago when it ruled that President Richard Nixon was required to give audio tapes to a special prosecutor. Nixon resigned 15 days later. The high court also ruled that President Bill Clinton had no immunity from lawsuits regarding events before he was elected.

Third, DDT was so traumatized by President Obama’s statements to 3,000 former staffers about the illegality of AG Bill Barr dropping the case against Michael Flynn and DDT’s incompetence in regard to the COVID-19 crisis that he rage-tweeted 52 times in one hour yesterday morning and every 7.5 minutes throughout the day. On the “leaked” tape, the former president was heard to say that DDT’s response to the pandemic was an “absolute chaotic disaster.” In his tweets, DDT fixated on the investigation into his 2016 campaign ties to Russia, calling it “Obamagate” and stating that it is “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” He wants people “indited [sic].” DDT did squeeze in one tweet with “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY’ but wrote nothing about the at least 80,000+ people who have thus far died of the virus. The only mention of the crisis was to praise himself by tweeting, “We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic.”

At today’s press briefing, journalist for the Washington Post Philip Rucker asked DDT what the crime is and whether the DOJ should prosecute the former president. DDT obfuscated for a while with no explanation of any crime. Rucker repeated his question, and DDT said:  

“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”

At the press briefing, DDT also kept claiming that the U.S. has far more testing capacity than any other country. Thirty-seven other countries have tested more than the 29,255 people per million tested in the U.S.: Canada, Russia, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Israel, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, and Australia as well as many smaller countries.

Rural counties, including those in red states are seeing new COVID-19 hot zones in reopening states. Two-thirds of people in the U.S. live in counties with rates of over 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. The fastest growth of numbers in Midwestern and Southern states comes in smaller counties. Just 2.3 percent of newly high prevalence counties are in the Northeast. Counties voting for DDT in 2016 were more likely to see new cases in the past week.

In the press briefing, DDT repeated his lie that people “should all be able to get a test right now.” The lesser favored areas—mostly Democratic—must prioritize symptomatic people who have doctors’ prescriptions. CDC wants prioritization of hospitalized and high-risk patients. The nine million tests haven’t begun to meet the demand for testing. One-third of surveyed people feared they had the disease, but only five percent of the third could get a test. Admiral Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing testing efforts, said that states “aspire” to perform more than 12 million tests in the next four weeks, about 3.6 percent of people in the U.S. Yet, like DDT, he also said that people should not get tests if they have no symptoms, ignoring all the asymptomatic infections that need tracing—possibly up to 50 percent of the virus cases. According to Dr. Francis Collins, director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Abbott ID Now machine, used to perform rapid coronavirus tests, has “about a 15% false negative rate.” That means the testing that DDT, white House staffers, and anyone near DDT and VP Mike Pence will give a false negative 15 times for every 100 tests.

DDT has avoided any mention of the unemployment rate after using it for three years to prove how successful he is. In six weeks, 33.5 million people have filed jobless claims, and the Department of Labor listed the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression. About 157 million people were employed before the health crisis, meaning 20 percent of them have lost their jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, those figures fall woefully short of reality. Another 4.3 percent unemployed come from those who dropped out of the labor force. If the 7.5 million workers “misclassified as ’employed, not at work’ instead of ‘temporarily unemployed’ …  were classified correctly AND all coronavirus-related job losses had shown up as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be around 23.6%.” According to the EPI, about 12.7 million people lost employer-based health insurance.

Last month, the EPI also reported that three to four people couldn’t get into the system to apply for unemployment for every ten people who succeeded. Another two per ten said that the process was too complicated to try. That means an additional 50 percent of eligible unemployed not reported. Technical failures include difficult phone verification processes, limits of applications only on specific days, wait times of six to eight hours, websites shut down for long periods, and user information issued by mail.

Even without these glitches, the number of jobs lost in April was more than double the entire number lost in what was called the “Great Recession” of 2009. Although 80 percent of people who lost their jobs think they will get them back, this belief isn’t reality. According to Bloomberg, a large number of layoffs called “temporary” a month ago are now “indefinite” or “permanent.” J. Crew and Nieman Marcus are declaring bankruptcy, and Lord & Taylor are liquidating inventory in its 38 department stores. Although small businesses may reopen, fear will keep customers to going to them. Fifty-two percent of them expect to be out of business within six months.

On Fox & Friends, DDT’s BFF and trade adviser, Peter Navarro, called the reporting of unemployment a “pity party.” He continued, “Anybody who thinks this is the Great Depression doesn’t understand either history or economics.” Then he repeated DDT’s claim of “the strongest and most beautiful economy” before the virus. Two of the “pity party” participants were DDT’s appointees, White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. They agreed that job losses was leading the U.S. toward a similarity to the Great Depression. Mnuchin said that jobs were “probably going to get worse before they get better.”

Last week, Deutsche Bank predicted the second quarter GDP plummeting 40 percent, up from an earlier estimate of 13 percent down. It also thinks the economy will have a much slower recovery, hoping for an increase of 15 percent in the third quarter and 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter for a decline of 8 percent for 2020, rather than the prior forecast of 3.2 percent. A drop in consumer spending causing much of the 4.8 percent GDP slump in the first quarter will worsen. Goldman Sachs warned an 18 percent drop of stocks in the next three months because it’s in a “pseudo-bullish rally” right now.

Over 80,000 people—plus thousands and thousands of people not tested—have died from the deadliest disease in over a century, 26 million people have filed for unemployment this month, unemployment is over 20 percent, the stock market is the most volatile for decades, the GDP has dropped to unbelievable levels, and DDT announced at his campaign rally (that he calls a “coronavirus briefing”) that he is throwing himself a party on the Mall on the Fourth of July—despite the pandemic.

April 18, 2020

DDT: Week 169 – More News from the Disaster Relief Act

Slime keeps crawling out of the $2.2 trillion disaster relief bill. Over 80 percent of the GOP tax change–$86 billion in just 2020—goes to 43,000 millionaires who annually earn more than $1 million, each of these millionaires receiving an average of $1.6 million. The law temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The 2017 GOP tax law did the opposite to offset other tax cuts in the legislation. Less than three percent of the benefits go to people making less than $100,000 a year, and most of the beneficiaries are hedge-fund investors and real estate business owners.  

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told banks they can seize the $1,200 that 70 million people making under $75,000 may get from the plan for debts. The law supposedly prevented the garnishment of wages except for overdue alimony, but that was only for government debts. Private debts were excluded from the law. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order preventing creditors or debt collectors from garnishing money from the disaster recovery law unless the debts came from criminal conviction. Thus far at least Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Washington governors have signed similar orders, but Mnuchin, who has the same power, refuses to keep private businesses from taking money meant for food and shelter. 

USAA, a veteran-serving financial institution with a membership of about 13 million mostly current and former members of the military and their families, stopped taking veterans’ $1,200 checks after a reporter went public.  issued a statement to the reporter that the seized money would be returned and pause its collection for 90 days.  

Mnuchin announced that 80 million people received their $1,200 this week, but the dispersal from the IRS was filled with its own disasters.

  • Parents didn’t receive the promised $500 for up to three independent children under the age of 17.
  • Up to 21 million people who filed their taxes via H&R Block, TurboTax, and other services couldn’t get payments because the IRS didn’t have direct deposit information from them on file. Those people must input bank information on the website used for payment tracking. A TurboTax spokesperson said the IRS has the necessary information for its users, but customers still report problems.
  • People using the “Get My Payment” website to track their payment status received the message “Payment Status Not Available.” One reason may have been that people on Social Security aren’t entered in that website yet, but people who don’t fall into any IRS categories explaining why they have no tracking information still can’t use the website.
  • Pursing the information several times during one day locked out people looking for information.
  • People who don’t normally file tax returns because of making too little but are eligible for $1,200 must enter information in a a new non-filers tool at IRS.gov. but may not have access to computers because libraries are closed.
  • The IRS said that any SSA, SSI, and SS disability must go to the non-filers website to get payments for children.
  • People who owed nothing in taxes cannot move forward to pursue questions.
  • Checks may be sent to deceased people if they were listed on the 2018 or 2019 tax returns. (According to the conservative National Taxpayers Union Foundation, that money does not legally need to be returned because it is “a clerical or math error” by the IRS.)

These problems are only for direct deposits; checks to another 70 million people will be delayed. Some people may not receive them until September. An immediate delay is that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told Mnuchin in March that he wants his signature on the checks. A month later, DDT “doesn’t remember” his request, but Mnuchin followed through. DDT cannot legally sign the checks because he’s not an authorized signer of Treasury Department payments so his name appears on the memo line. In order for DDT’s name to appear, the computer code had to be changed on the check template which DDT’s administration claimed didn’t take any extra time. At a campaign rally, DDT said:

“I don’t know too much about it. I don’t imagine it’s a big deal. I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check and my name is on it.”

Because the federal government doesn’t send checks to undocumented workers—not even legalized family members of undocumented workers—California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $125 million fund, $50 million from donations, to help people shut out of the disaster relief with individuals up to $500 and families up to $1,000. Clients canceled 94 percent of domestic workers. Newsome will also permit reimbursement for undocumented immigrants to be tested at community clinics and be treated. As can be expected, some outraged conservatives tried a Twitter protest with #RecallGavinNewsom. It backfired, especially in changing the definition of “recall”:

Mayma Raphael: “I live in California and proud that my tax dollars will be supporting one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our state, undocumented laborers. California produces 40% of our nations produce with 70% undocumented workforce. It’s the right thing to do. #RecallGavinNewsom”

Steve Holzer: “Oh, I #RecallGavinNewsom.  He’s that guy who has an 83% approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in the state that has only seen 758 deaths in total when New York State is seeing that in one day.  I recall him. Love him. @GavinNewsom” https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/most-americans-like-how-their-governor-is-handling-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

Mike Chen: “Hi, if you know anyone complaining that California should #RecallGavinNewsom because undocumented residents ‘don’t pay taxes etc’ gently remind them that 50-75% of undocumenteds pay taxes using an ITIN, including soc sec even tho they’ll never get it. https://www.vox.com/2019/3/1/18241692/undocumented-immigrants-pay-state-local-taxes  Undocumented immigrants pay millions of dollars in state taxes — even in the reddest states. Here’s how much tax dollars unauthorized workers pay in your state.”

Hysterical Raisins: “#RecallGavinNewsom You don’t have to remind me to recall Gavin Newsom. I recall him very well. He’s that smart and handsome governor who kept the California death toll much lower than expected.”

Walker Bragman: “For those tweeting #RecallGavinNewsom over the $125M fund to give stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants, remember this: Your health could well depend on theirs. We are only as safe as the least protected person in America.”

Jerry James Stone “RU tweeting #RecallGavinNewsom over the $125M fund to give stimulus checks to “illegal” immigrants, remember this: 70% farm workers are undocumented. Cali grows 40% America’s produce. Farms are literally throwing away food right now. This is bigger than your xenophobia.”

And more slime:

The $350 billion in relief for small businesses was largely gone in the first five minutes of reviewing 60,000 applications with a process of “first come, first served.” Wealthy hedge-fund owners applied for funding with the claim that they have “small businesses” just like restaurants, dry cleaners, and hair salons. If 75 percent of actual small- and medium-sized businesses under mandatory shutdowns don’t get a $55,000 infusion by May 1, they cannot successfully restart. Head of a financial research business said that their needs require $18 trillion.

Hedge-fund billionaires aren’t the only ones who want a piece of the $2.2 trillion pie. Medical staffing companies owned by wealthy investors who cut salaries of doctors on the COVID-19 say the virus is bad for business because non-critical ill people avoid the ER. Visits are down 30 percent, and those who come in are sicker and more expensive to treat. The American College of Emergency Physicians wants $3.6 billion in aid. Co-founders of Envision, cutting pay for some of its 27,000 clinicians are worth $5.6 billion and $5.8 billion. Medical staffing companies benefited from tax relief and advance Medicare payments in the stimulus package before it cut doctors’ pay and hours.

Insurers are also asking for federal relief in paying claims, threatening to raise premiums if they aren’t on the federal dole. Activists paid attention and called for nationalized health insurance.

Another hand stuck out for a handout comes from the nuclear industry wanting a $23 billion gift from a 30-percent tax credit, sick leave for employees, and “prioritized access” to testing and masks.

Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco—who already pay no taxes and get huge subsidies—might get almost $20 billion from the disaster relief act because the Federal Reserve plans to buy up $750 billion in corporate debt. Energy companies are 11 percent of the entire U.S. market. Twelve fracking companies could get $24.1 billion, and DDT plans to spend billions of taxpayer money to “fill up” the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The Labor Department, under the guidance of Eugene Scalia, gave states permission to exclude gig workers such as Uber drivers and other “independent contractors” from the expanded unemployment benefits. New Labor Department guidelines leaves out workers forced to suspend operations “because there is reduced demand for their services” due to the coronavirus pandemic, the purpose for disaster relief act’s unemployment benefits. The application process is also not set up for self-employed people.

Tip of the iceberg?

On April 18, the U.S. has 738,913 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 39,015 deaths, over 36 percent increase in three days. The number of deaths from confirmed cases of COVID-19 for less than two months is thus far 5,000 more than the estimated number of deaths from flu with no testing.

March 26, 2020

Covid-19 Bill Passes the Senate, Goes to House Tomorrow; DDT Unhinged

People became frightened when they thought DDT would start a war with Iran—and most of the Middle East and Russia. But now he claims to be a “wartime” president but won’t declare a war on the healthcare crisis. Congress has already passed two bills to help people and companies with the stress of covid-19: an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental for the health-care system, and a $100-billion-plus bill to boost paid sick leave and unemployment insurance and provide free coronavirus testing. The last bill passed the Senate by 90-8, but one of the obstructionists, Rand Paul (R-KY), tested positive for coronavirus and cannot vote. Another no GOP vote, Mike Lee of Utah, is self-quarantining after proximity to Paul.  

Senate Bill:

After six days of sometimes explosive negotiations, the newest one for $2.2 trillion has unanimously passed the Senate with 96 members present. In addition to Paul, Mitt Romney (UT), who was self-quarantining because of Paul, and John Thune (SD), who wasn’t feeling well, were absent for the vote. The bill must now go to the House for a vote. With the House in recess, the vote must be unanimous—a difficult proposition for members from far right to far left, with beliefs from too much for corporations to too much for people. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced the House will convene at 9:00 am tomorrow to consider the bill. If a voice vote fails, the only alternative is for members to come back to Washington in the midst of the epidemic.

Key elements of the bill: 

  • $504 billion: large businesses including $25 billion in grants for the passenger airlines; $25 billion in loans for passenger airlines; $17 billion targeted for Boeing; and $425 billion for other businesses, cities and states with restrictions on CEO salary increases and stock buybacks for a limited time. [Boeing, which is seeking $60 billion in aid, declared it would refuse a bailout if the company has to give the government an equity stake.]
  • $260 billion: unemployment insurance for additional weekly $600 payments for four months.
  • $377 billion: help for small companies deal with payroll problems.
  • $280 billion: business tax cuts, deferrals including payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare).
  • $180 billion: hospitals, healthcare providers, community health clinics, and public health agencies.
  • $185 billion: emergency aid for in state and local governments.
  • $290 billion: $1,200 checks for adults making under $75,000 and $500 to most children in the U.S.
  • $45 billion: FEMA disaster relief fund.
  • $31 billion: local schools and colleges
  • $25 billion: transit systems.
  • $25 billion: additional food stamp funding
  • $450 million (not billion) for voting needs in this time of crisis.

A provision also prevents top government officials and congressional members, including DDT, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus. When asked earlier if he would apply for some of the stimulus funds for his business losses, DDT said he didn’t know. In 2001, he collected $150,000 in federal funds designed to help small businesses recover after 9/11 although he didn’t fit the criteria for the grant.

Democrats accepted the $500 billion lending fund because DDT no longer has oversight for a “slush fund.” An independent inspector general and an oversight board will examine the lending decisions, and terms of the loans will be made public within seven days instead of six months as Republicans wanted. The $700 billion TARP created during the 2008 recession used these two pieces as well as a congressional oversight panel. Some of the provisions in the proposed House bill were lost in the bipartisan bill.

Not clear is more money for Native American tribes that have thus far received short shrift in covid-19 supplies and assistance. Some tribes have no testing kits or supplies. Another question about the bill is whether it permits large corporations to lower wages and fire people. 

Republicans lost DDT’s ability to treat $500 billion as a “slush fund and excluding assistance for all nonprofits.

Democrats lost most of its provision of $4 billion for election money for states to mail ballots to all registered voters in an emergency and other democracy needs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to make all that money a non-starter because Republicans don’t want all eligible people to vote. Other missing Dem pieces are expanding the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid along with protections for healthcare workers or paid leave and family medical leave. Help with student loans also got left out.

Last week, 3.3 million people filed for unemployment benefits; the unemployment rate is up to 5.5 percent, two points above that in February. The unemployment rate could be much higher because it doesn’t include self-employed workers, gig workers, undocumented workers, students, and people who worked fewer than six months last year. The prior unemployment record was just 695,000 during a week in October 1982. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin believes that companies will immediately rehired people because of the stimulus bill.

DDT pushed for the stimulus bill because he’s become more and more desperate about the health crisis. Two days ago, tired of hard questions from reporters, DDT held a two-hour “town hall” on Fox to repeat his lies without being questioned about them. The session began with DDT urging people to go to church on Easter, 19 days from then, because he wants to see “packed churches all over our country. Fox anchor Bill Hemmer called DDT’s idea a “great American resurrection,” and DDT wouldn’t answer a question about what health experts thought about opening that afternoon up on Easter. It was his 75th interview with Fox since his inauguration in less than 41 months. DDT’s regular briefing was extremely short—only 41 minutes compared to earlier ones that lasted hours—with few questions allowed from the press. CNN’s Kaitlin Collins did manage to ask, “Who suggested Easter?” DDT’s answer:

“I just thought it was a beautiful time. A beautiful time. A beautiful timeline. It’s a great day.”

“The media would like to see me do poorly in an election,” DDT said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday and pointed at two different reporters when he said, “You do. She does.” Today, he tweeted that the media is “trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success.” His open statements about the dangers of the virus impeding his reelection show he is becoming increasingly unhinged about a situation over which he has no control and that his only criterion is what benefits his reelection. Yet at yesterday’s briefing, he said, “I’m not going to do anything rash or hastily.” A comparison of the U.S. with Italy shows the direction that the U.S. is taking, especially with DDT’s plans to open the country. 

Once again a public outcry is saving money for the people of the United States. Gilead is pulling its request to have a seven-year monopoly on remdesivir, a promising drug to treat covid-19 although public health experts are still concerned about the company’s price gouging. A law also allows the government to override a patent if the company receives “reasonable compensation.” Gilead already has the rights to Sofobuvir, a lifesaving treatment for about 5 million people for hepatitis C costing $48,000 for a 24-week course—about $1,000 per pill. Gilead’s preventative HIV drug Truvada costs $6 to manufacture and sells for almost $2,000 a month in the U.S. Joseph Grogan, who served as head of federal affairs for Gilead from 2011 to 2017 while it set prices for the HIV and hep C drugs, has led DDT’s work on drug pricing and serves on DDT’s coronavirus task force.

According to medical professionals, far more people are dying in the U.S. of covid-19 than are reported, partly because people are not tested before or after they die. A doctor in California said that state and local data to be reported to the CDC aren’t being audited. New York City and Los Angeles County gave guidance to not test patients unless they think the results will significantly change treatment because of severe shortage of tests and protective equipment.  In Mississippi, where the governor ordered local governments not to shut down any businesses, medical experts have noted a serious lag in reporting cases. DDT is allocating supplies to the nation and wants to open the country on Easter without any awareness of where resources are most needed and that the true scope of the crisis is.

DDT loves to have the most of anything, and he’s accomplished his goal in the number of confirmed covid-19 cases in the worth. The U.S. has surpassed even China in this area, China with four times the population with 85,377 confirmed cases today, and surpassed Italy in the cases. That’s a 25 percent increase since yesterday. The total of 1,295 deaths in the U.S. is more than a 25-percent increase from yesterday. And those numbers are just those reported, not the ones kept quiet or people not tested. [The chart on the right is six days ago when U.S. confirmed cases were over 50,000 fewer.]

There are 531,799 confirmed cases in the world with 24,071 deaths.

May 8, 2014

Is Rick Perry Smarter Wearing Glasses?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is worried about me. I found that out when he talked on Sunday’s Meet the Press about his “family … the “90 million people that are out of work.” What he doesn’t know, however, is that in April the United States had 9.8 million unemployed people—a horrifying statistic but 80.2 fewer people than Perry cited.

Rick Perry

The Bureau of Labor Services did show 92.6 million people in the U.S. over the age of 15 who were “not in the labor force.” I’m one of those because I retired several years ago. And I don’t plan to look for a job. Perry doesn’t need to worry about me.

I’m in good company: 36 million other people are 65 or older. Another 11 million teenagers, age 16 to 19, are unemployed—not looking for jobs. In the 20- to 24-year-old catgory, 6.8 million people, many of them still in college, aren’t looking for jobs. The rest are stay-at-home parents and/or spouses, early retirees, people who may have inherited money, and anyone else who doesn’t need or want to work.

To be officially “unemployed,” someone without a job had to make an effort to get one within the four weeks before the BLS survey. Right now the unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, evenly divided among those who haven’t looked for employment in the past year and those who have searched for work in the past year but not in the past four weeks.

Of those 9.8 million people, 6 million are actively searching for jobs, and 2.2 million are “marginally attached” to the labor force, those who looked for work within the past year and not the past four weeks. Others are “discouraged workers” who quit looking for jobs because they think there’s nothing available.

Perry leftPerry is also worried because “there are more women out of the workforce now than at any time in our history, that’s just not right.” He’s correct: it’s not right. It’s the lowest rate since 1988, but the women’s labor force participation is almost twice as much as it was in 1948. Just like the overall labor force participation rate, the percentage of working women peaked in early 2000 and declined after that because the country’s population is aging. The decline is expected to continue because of that reason.

If Perry wants to worry, he should consider employment in his home state of Texas. Although he boasted about 95 percent of Texas workers earning above the minimum wage, the state was tied for first with Mississippi in 2010 for the percentage of hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage. At that time, 9.5 percent of people in Texas earned at or below minimum wage. By 2013, Texas got better, moving to fifth worst among 50 states with the percentage dropping to 6.4. States with higher percentages are Tennessee (7.4 percent), Idaho, Arkansas, and Alabama.

Perry, however, is worried only about the “maximum wage,” not the minimum wage.

The appearance on Meet the Press—and the new glasses—are just part of the governor’s attempt to reinvent himself for the 2016 election after the gaffes of 2012. He’s been on Jimmy Kimmel, traveled out of the country, and appealed to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He even spent some time at MSNBC with Joe Scarborough.

The “oops” times of cuddling a bottle of maple syrup in Vermont and the inability to remember three items—a traditional check for Alzheimers—might disappear if he had figured out how many people in the country are unemployed. That’s not likely to happen with comedians like Jon Stewart tracking such moments like the ones on last night’s The Daily Show. About Perry’s transition to a wiser man, Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican consultant, said, “The margin for error is small. He needs to outperform those perceptions immediately and dramatically or he looks like the same guy in ’12.”  Last night he did.

His current problems may not be as serious as those for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who closed an important bridge and failed to spend a large percentage of funds for Superstorm Sandy after over a year, but he’s still being investigated by a grand jury. He wanted to unseat Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and thought that he could succeed after her arrest for drunk driving. She refused to quit, and, as punishment, he vetoed $7.5 million in state funding for the public-integrity unit that traces fraud and corruption.

The Texas GOP has put the dismantling of the Public Integrity Unit into its platform for over three decades. One of its cases was the criminal case against former Rep. Tom DeLay for money laundering to hide corporate donations to state GOP candidates. Getting rid of Lehmberg would also mean that Perry could have named her replacement.

Lehmberg’s office was investigating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, a pet project of Perry’s, when he decided that she had to go. Eighteen scientists, including the Nobel laureate director, had resigned in protest from the multibillion-dollar agency, claiming that investment decisions were made without scientific review with tens of millions of dollars going to Perry supporters and donors for their business ventures. A pending case concerns the indictment of an agency executive for an improperly awarded $11 million grant.

Prosecutors only need to show that Perry offered considerations in return for actions by District Attorney Lehmberg for him to be determined guilty of breaking a state law. A Travis County judge said that Lehmberg was told that funding would be restored, even after the veto, if she resigned. Grand jurors could easily see this behavior as bribery or coercion. Last year Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint for alleged abuse of power. That grand jury’s term expired, and a new one has been seated.

Technically, a guilty charge would put Perry in a worse position than Christie because obstructing justice is determined worse than blocking a thoroughfare. Unless, of course, the federal government discovers that Christie offered favors in exchange for Superstorm Sandy funds.

perry 1

Perry’s latest move is to pay Toyota $40 million to move from California to Texas. That’s $10,000 for each job, the highest rate of corporate welfare in a decade. The last time Texas was in fiscal trouble, Perry used billions of dollars in federal money for a bailout. His refusal to take Medicaid, however, stops him from using that solution again.

Humorist Andy Borowitz wrote, “With an eye toward a Presidential run in 2016, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, is hoping that a two-pronged strategy of wearing glasses and not speaking will make him appear smarter to voters.” Perry forgot the second suggestion.

Decisions for both Christie and Perry may decide the fate of Jeb Bush. With them out of the way, the GOP might be forced to consider a third Bush for a presidential candidate.  But then Rick Perry can stop worry about me.

August 28, 2013

Where Is the ‘Dream’?

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act passed the year after King’s speech and followed that with the Voting Rights Act. The United States, however, has failed to address the March’s goals for economic opportunity and equality, ten demands in civil rights legislation, public school desegregation, voting rights, job training, and an increased minimum wage.

  • Congressional comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation without compromise or filibuster-to guarantee all Americans access to all public accommodations, decent housing, adequate and integrated education, and the right to vote.
  • Withholding of federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists.
  • Desegregation of all school districts in 1963.
  • Enforcement of the fourteenth Amendment, reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disfranchised.
  • A new Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds.
  • Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any constitutional right is violated.
  • A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers–Negro and white–on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.
  • A national minimum wage act that· will give all Americans a decent standard of living.
  • A broadened Fair Labor Standards Act to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.
  • A federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination by federal, state, and municipal governments, and by employers, contractors, employment agencies, and trade unions.

During the 15 years after the 1963 March on Washington, conditions for blacks in the United States vastly improved, and legislation benefitted other groups—women, poor whites, other communities of color, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Poverty rates dropped along with improvement in education, employment, and democratic participation. Congress and the president worked together to solve national problems.

Yet in two cases during the 1970s, the Supreme Court limited mandatory school-desegregation plans and declared that education is not a fundamental right. After that SCOTUS put limits on the ability of school districts to voluntarily create integration plans. Other decisions have put barriers in the way of people to take violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to court.

Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980 saw the growth of the Heritage Foundation, created after Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) lost the 1964 election to Lyndon B. Johnson, and Reagan moved Goldwater’s supporters into federal agencies and onto federal benches. The Federalist Society grew, creating a network of conservative lawyers who provided legal arguments to defeat social justice. Conservative media outlets like Fox News began to use their falsehoods to influence less knowledgeable people.

Fox contributor Laura Ingraham displayed a prime example of conservative media when she culminated her hateful responses to the anniversary of the March on Washington with a clip of the speech given 50 years ago by civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (R-GA) and interrupted the speech with the sound of a gunshot and then long silence.  Following a commercial break, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan claimed that Lewis, Rev. Al Sharpton and other speakers at Saturday’s event were “part of a great racket.” He said, “What will these folks do, quite frankly, if they had to get up and admit we’ve got more opportunities than any large group of black folks anywhere on Earth today and our community is not making the most of it?”

Fifty years later, partisan divides gridlock the federal government, the GOP is setting back efforts to help the poor, unemployment and the need for jobs are elevated, and union-busting has caused loss of income for everyone except the U.S. elite.

Fifty years later people still carry signs asking for “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All,” and “Decent Housing.” People still protest the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. People still denounce racial profiling in the country’s largest city.

Voting: Seven Southern states passed or implemented voter suppression laws in the two months since the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This decision followed a general election in which blacks waited twice as long to vote, on average, as whites. One in 13 blacks (2.2 million people) cannot vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws—four times higher than the rest of the population.

Jobs: Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began functioning two years after the March, employers still prefer white workers, according to Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy. The unemployment rate for blacks (12.6 percent) is almost twice as that for whites (6.6 percent), about the same ratio as in 1963. The average household income for blacks ($32,068) is far below that of white families ($54,620) and declined by 15 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Job Training: The $38.6 billion in 2013 dollars budgeted in 1978 shrank to $8 billion in 2013 dollars by 2007. Congress consistently fails to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the nation’s largest job-training program, for the past 15 years. Legislation also excludes important methods to improve services such as developing skilled workers through education and training.

School Desegregation:  Because of housing patterns, schools are segregated at the same rates as the late 1960s, according to Andrew Rotherham, co-founder of the education think tank Bellwether Education Partners. Three-fourths of all black students attend schools that are majority nonwhite.

Minimum Wage:  The value of the current minimum wage is below that in 1964, yet conservatives ridicule fast-food workers who have joined to fight for decent wages. At the time of the 1963 March, the minimum wage of $1.25 was equivalent to $9.25 today–$2 higher than the current minimum of $7.25. March organizers demanded $2 per hour, in today’s dollars more than $14.80, but by the time the minimum was raised to that level 11 years after the March, inflation had eaten up any advantage. ALEC, the corporate-controlled organization that hands out bills to GOP legislators, opposes any increase in minimum wages, calls for a full repeal of minimum wages, and works to prevent local efforts to enact living wage requirements. Meanwhile, fast-food and other low-wage workers are striking against low pay in Chicago, New York City, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Raleigh, Atlanta, Houston, and Oakland.

Justice: While conservatives fight to load the bench with judges opposed to equal rights, the number of judicial vacancies has grown to emergency levels. There are not enough judges to hear cases on the country’s dockets.

Racism: Although all restaurants must now serve blacks, a group of 25 blacks were told to leave the Wild Wing Café in South Carolina after peacefully waiting for two hours to be seated. One white patron felt “threatened. This is just one of millions of racist acts in the U.S.

At last weekend’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial, the main themes were the same as 50 years ago—voter suppression, “stand your ground” laws, stop-and-frisk, and the question of jobs and union-busting. Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, talked about the “stand your ground” laws. She said, “We can think of ‘standing your ground’ in the negative. But I ask you today to flip that coin. Stand your ground in terms of fighting for justice and equality!”  One poster showed a picture of Rosa Parks who stood her ground by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Before he was killed in on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., had these comments about the Republican party. The GOP hasn’t changed since that time.

The 1964 Republican National Convention: “The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism.”

Sen. Barry Goldwater (GOP 1964 presidential candidate):  “While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand.”

Ronald Reagan: “When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor can become a leading war hawk candidate for the Presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events.”

The March on Washington was about jobs and freedom, and Congress is avoiding any discussion about both. The country needs to fight back against those who refuse to recognize the importance of economic equality and who define freedom as “freedom to oppress others.”

August 7, 2013

Liberal Media Would Publish This News

Conservatives moan about the liberal media and praise the lying Fox Network for giving them the facts. Daily Kos has published 15 items that a truly liberal media would publish, news that is not made public in mainstream media.

Off shoring, sometimes called outsourcing is the reason for unemployment instead of the conservative claim of laziness. U.S. multinational corporations have increased employment overseas by 2.4 million while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the United States, and they account for only about 20 percent of the labor force.

In 2010, 20% of the people held approximately 88% of the net worth in the U.S., and the bottom 80 percent of the people held only 12 percent of net worth. The top 1% alone held 35% of all net worth. The bottom 80 percent has lost one-third of its net worth since 1983. The following chart illustrates the great discrepancy in net worth within the country.

if land mass were divided

One group controlled by corporate organizations drafts conservative laws and then distributes them to legislatures. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is responsible for the nation’s laws of stand your ground, voter ID, right to work without rights, school privatizing, health savings account bills to benefit health care companies, tobacco industry legislation, and more. ALEC is meeting in Chicago this weekend to hand legislation to lawmakers before they go back into session.

The U. S. has the most people in prison of any country in the world. This nation has 5 percent of the world’s population but incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. 2.3 criminals. China has four times the number of people with 1.6 million people in prison.  Crime rate declined by 25 percent in the U.S. between 1988 to 2008 while the number of prisoners rose from 350,000 in 1972 to 2.3 prisoners.

incarcerated_americans_zpsb7c891bd

In 2009, non-Hispanic blacks, while only 13.6% of the population, accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. In 2011, according to FBI statistics, whites accounted for 69.2% of arrests. This is in a supposedly “post-racial” time.

U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world at $8,233. Norway is second with $5,388. The U.S. total amount of GDP spent on health care is also the highest of any country in the world at 17.6 percent. The next closest country is the Netherlands at 12%. Conservatives claim that a competitive market will bring prices down, but obviously it doesn’t.

The Glass-Steagall Act separated risky financial investments from government backed deposits for 66 years after the crash of the market in 1929 . Banks could not take your federally insured savings to make risky investments. The law’s repeal in 1999  allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate with no conflict of interest from anyone. The loss of Glass-Steagall led to the recession in 2008 and continues to cause financial problems for everyone except corporations and the wealthiest people. And it’s only getting worse.

Since the 1980s, the bank deregulation has grown into a legal scam as they purchase commodities such as aluminum, oil, wheat, cotton and coffee as well as oil pipelines, ports, and energy distributors and drive up prices. For example, oil speculation may account for one-third of the price of a barrel of oil, costing $10 for each fill-up at the pump.

With the overwhelming conservative takeover of many states in the 2010 election, Republicans were able to redraw national congressional districts to rig the election of a majority of GOP members of the House. In the districts across the nation, Democrats gained more than 1.4 million votes than Republicans, yet the GOP has control of the House with a majority of 234 to 201 seats. Redistricting won’t happen again until 2020 after the census, leaving the GOP to probably control the House until the people they represent understand that they are not benefited by their Republican representatives. [photo]

gerrymandering

The filibuster has been used a record number of time since Obama was elected President. From 2008-2012, 375 bills weren’t even allowed to come to a vote in the Senate because Republicans threatened the filibuster. Far more were probably not even introduced because of the filibuster threat. In the first six months of 2013, Congress has passed only 15 bills that were signed into law, eight fewer than in the first 6 months of 2012 and 19 fewer than 2011. Until the Democrats in the Senate threatened to reform the filibuster, the GOP held up 79 of President Obama’s nominees for the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal regardless of qualifications.

Corporations now have excessive control over elections because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. In a 2011 poll, only 22 percent of people had heard of this ruling until they took the survey. Although 77 percent of the people think that corporations have more control over the political process than people, they don’t know why.

The Southern Strategy, exploiting ethnic prejudice, gained its popularity and name from President Richard Nixon’s campaign strategist, Kevin Philips. His position was to get blacks to register as Democrats in the South so that the whites would move to the Republican party. By 1908, the percentage of minorities was so high, however, that Republicans had to create punitive voting laws. In addition, the GOP attacked Medicaid, Social Security, labor unions, and Obamacare–programs which, though they benefit more white seniors, retirees, women, and children, have been sold to many Americans as handouts to lazy, undeserving blacks and minorities. As H.R. Haldeman’s diary quoted Nixon:

“P [President] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

U.S. tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy. A progressive tax program is designed to tax people very little as they are starting out and progressively increase their rates as they do better. Republican plans shift the tax burden from the wealthy onto working people. For example, the Ohio GOP repealed the estate tax for the portion of estates over $338,000. Other states such as North Carolina want to transfer from income taxes to consumption taxes that increase the percentage of taxes paid by the poorest people. Capital gain taxes are only 20 percent instead of the rate of other income which is closer to 35 percent.

Colony collapse disorder caused the loss of 40-50 percent of commercial U.S. bee hives. Although most people care little about this loss, one-fourth of our food depends on honeybee pollination. In Texas, though, the media address bees in this fashion: “Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses.”

The number of temporary workers has grown by more than 50 percent since the recession ended to nearly 2.7 million. Temporary workers comprise 12 percent of the workforce, 17 million workers. About one-third of these are in manufacturing. Because they get lower pay, fewer benefits, and extremely limited job security, they spend less freely and fail to boost the economy. Economists think that this is a long-term trend.

Six corporations–Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS–control roughly 90% of the media in the U.S. Watch for the stories following the hook of “if it bleeds, it leads”—such as the man who used a SUV to run over people at the Venice beach in California. Or the attention to the Fort Hood trial as the shooter acts as his own lawyer and questions witnesses. Also the way that the media reports what politicians say but don’t bother to fact-check the statements.

One that is missing from the above list is the GOP’s refusal to increase the minimum wage, not even to match what it was over 40 years ago. The following map shows how many hours of minimum wage work are required to just rent an apartment.

hours needed apartment

What’s missing is reporting about population growth, political lobbying, government’s role, military expenditures, rape on campuses, privatization of prisons and schools, gun violence, nuclear energy—the list goes on and on.

October 13, 2012

Good News for President Obama

While Mitt Romney and other Republicans find it vital to point out the fallacies of President Obama’s policies and actions, the conservatives determinedly ignore the way that the current administration is bringing the country out of the disasters that George W. Bush and the other neocons brought onto the United States. Here’s a sampling:

U.S. consumer sentiment rose up from 78.3 to 83.1 this month, its highest in five years, shortly after the U.S. unemployment rate tumbled to its lowest in nearly four years.

During George W. Bush’s rule, the stock market crashed, and trillions of dollars of private wealth were erased with the market bottoming out at 6,547 in early 2009. Now the stocks have rebounded to almost twice that, closing out last week at 13,329.

A boom in oil production within the United States has the country on a course to cut its reliance on imported crude oil to about 42 percent this year, the lowest level in two decades. Republicans claim that the president’s energy policies drive up the prices because of shortages and regulations, but the reason behind inflated prices is speculation. The CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson, told a Senate hearing last year that this speculation was driving up the price of a barrel of oil by as much as 40%.

For a while Mitt Romney was using the “are you better off than you were four years ago” question to put down what President Obama has accomplished during his term. Here are some differences

When the economy was in a tail spin in early 2009, the auto industry was on pace to sell 9.3 vehicles that year. Now, GM is coming back, Chrysler is solid, and Ford Motors is on a roll; September car sales in the U.S. reached a 14.88-million annual pace.

By the end of the first quarter of 2009, $16 trillion in home equity had been erased through bad bank methods. Now, home prices are heading up, and home equity has rebounded more than $11.5 trillion.

By February 2008, ten days after the current president took his oath of office, the unemployment had shot up from 5 percent the year before to 8.3 percent. In less than nine months, the unemployment rate topped out at 10 percent. Now the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, still high but consistently declining.

Compare the current unemployment situation to that of President Reagan, patron saint of the conservatives. Ten days before he took office, the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent; nineteen months later it peaked at 10.8 percent in November 1982. By the time, Reagan started his second term, it had fallen to 7.3 percent, just 0.1 percent of recovery in four years. That’s only 20 percent of what the current president has managed in less time.

Obama inherited a deficit of nearly $1.3 trillion from Bush/Cheney the moment he took the oath of office, a deficit that he has dropped $200 billion this year, the smallest deficit in four years, despite the Republican policies that drive the deficit.

Although the conservatives refuse to admit that the 2009 stimulus benefited the country, “facts matter,” to quote VP Joe Biden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Romney campaign constantly likes about how much the government has spent during the past four years, it is actually the Republican presidents that spend far more. As the chart shows, only Bill Clinton spent less during the last half century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above chart also shows how unemployment claims grew during the last part of George W. Bush’s rule, only to start shrinking after President Obama’s inauguration.

When Bill Clinton left office in 2001, the nation had a large surplus and was on track to pay off the entirety of its debt, roughly $5 trillion at the time, by the end of the decade. After their election, Bush/Cheney went on a binge, charging the costs of two wars, two tax cuts, Medicare expansion, and a Wall Street bailout with no idea of how to pay for them except to accuse the next Democratic president of having an enormous deficit. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) described the Bush/Cheney era as a time when the GOP decided “it was standard practice not to pay for things.”

It’s against this backdrop that the Romney-Ryan ticket intends to pass trillions in additional tax cuts, increase defense spending, increase entitlement spending, and destroy health care reform, a move that would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt. Once again the Republicans want to further bankrupt the United States.

In fact, Ryan has already contributed a grand total of $6.8 trillion to the federal debt during his time in Congress, voting for at least 65 bills that either reduced revenue or increased spending. It’s horrifying to imagine what he would do if he were give more control than he has had as one person out of 435 representatives in the House.

Aside: William Koch is facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly and illegally imprisoning and interrogating an employee. Kirby Martenson, a former executive for a number of Koch subsidiary companies, claims that he was fired, imprisoned, and interrogated for an excessive amount of time at the Old West ghost town replica that Koch built recently. Check out the entire story here.

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