The Lady Speaks

Is the Election Over Yet?

I currently reside in Hell. This used to be small-town Pennsylvania, but the demons of election season have taken over, and we’re all suffering and tormented.

Radio stations are putting song-breaks between the campaign commercials. It’s gotten so bad, I’m thinking I should get cable, where a show’s advertisers get a little cranky if said show doesn’t appear.

I can’t go out in public without hearing about the election, the candidates, the false email rumors (Barack Obama EATS old people; pass it on! Hillary Clinton is behind a rash of DOGNAPPINGS! Pass it on! John McCain is THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS OZ! Pass it on!)

We here in Pennsylvania, especially in Bradford County are thrilled that our votes will count in selecting the Democratic nominee. I can’t say for sure, but I think the last time Pennsylvania had an active role in a Presidential election might have been around 1800. Add on top of that the hot contest for State Senate – with the almost-universally well-liked commissioner, Doug McLinko, on the Republican ticket, and two mostly unknowns (one of whom doesn’t even live in our district) – and all I can say is, thank heavens they don’t serve alcohol at the polling places!

Here’s a few comments I’ve overheard over the last few weeks. (Eavesdropping isn’t nice, unless you’re doing it to gather political information, right?)

These aren’t quite verbatim quotes, except in the case of the fourth one (believe me, that one’s with me till I die) and I’m totally guessing on the ages, but I believe caught the essence of their statements:

That stupid bitch is ruining this race. — From a 30-ish woman wearing an Obama ’08 pin

That black guy hasn’t ever done anything while he’s been in the Senate or before that in Illinois when he was…whatever the hell he was there. What makes anyone think he will do anything as President? — from an older man wearing a McCain pin

You keep saying he’s going to change things. I just want to know how. — from a 40-ish woman to an Obama supporter

“I don’t want no n*****r or no woman running this country.” — 75-ish male

I’m just sick of men telling us how much they’re going to change. You got an old man running and a young man running, and there isn’t two hairs of difference between them. Men have run this country since it’s founding, and just look at the messes they’ve made. — 70-ish female

Everyone talks about Hillary’s plans, but no one mentions that she wants to let Mexicans take over the country, or make abortions and birth control as easy to get as a soda. I got an email about it last week, and I tell you, it scared the daylights out of me! — 60-ish female

What the hell kind of message is “hope”? I got hope that my kid will get into a good college, and I got hope that I’ll be able to help him pay for it. I hope my job won’t get packed off to India or China. I hope that I won’t be eating cat food or living on the streets when I’m too old to work. I hope my kids don’t get sick because we can’t afford the copays or the medicine. Hope, I got. What I don’t have is a government that’s going to help anyone except the rich, and I don’t see that changing if he’s president. — 40-ish male

I think it would be better for the whole party if Hillary dropped out. She’s a cold, calculating, bitch and the longer she stays in, the more likely McCain is to win. — 20-ish male

George Bush has fucked us over for almost 8 years. McCain is apparently running on a platform that consists of being ‘crazier than Bush.’ I can’t imagine why anyone is voting for him. Of course, no one knows what Obama’s platform is. — high school student

Anyone who says they aren’t voting for Obama is a racist. Period. — 30-ish male

I don’t like Hillary. I definitely don’t like Obama. I loathe John McCain. — 40-ish female

I’m trying to talk my mom into voting for Hillary. We finally get a woman with strength and smarts who’s a real candidate for President, and she wants to throw her vote away on some guy who’s already dropped out? I don’t get it. — my daughter, on the phone to a friend

One thing I find rather depressing is just how prejudiced some of the McCain supporters in Pennsylvania are. These seem like nice old guys and gals, right up until they open their mouths. One can only assume they mainline Fox News and complain about the rotten kids walking across their lawn and worry that the next terrorist attack will wipe out Bradford County.

The Hillary supporters tend to mention her plans and policy positions. Her healthcare plan gets a lot of mentions. Around here, about 20% of the people are uninsured, and most of them are working Americans.

A common complaint from undecided Democrats is that Obama supporters tend to talk about the need for hope and change, but never really say how he intends to change anything.

And, as always, the DC pundits and Beltway types are pissing us all off with their complete lack of understanding about the actual issues that are in play here.

Personally, we’d love to have some of these media people show up in our rural county. It’d be an education and a half for most of them. But then again, what am I thinking? We can’t ask these oh-so-special people to care what blue-collar workers and farmers think. That might make them think they were wrong, and we know Bush’s cheerleaders are never wrong….

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April 9, 2008 Posted by | America, Bradford County PA, Economy, Election '08, Government, Life, Pennsylvania, Voting | 1 Comment

Politics vs. Reality in Middle America

Sorry for the serious lack of posting. I just couldn’t make myself give a damn about politics and other bullshit.

I should care. I should care about the failures of the Democrats, the obstructions, hatred, and nonsensical positions of the Republicans, the complete and utter lack of caring about the poor and the weak and the needy.

I should be posting three and four times a day, ranting and raving.

But the truth is … I’m tired. I’m just tired and overwhelmed with outrage fatigue, and – quite honestly – depressed. Children die because bureaucrats in an insurance company, safely removed from the consequences of their decisions, decide they aren’t worth saving. Aren’t worth attempting to save.

People are going hungry, going without heat, going without necessities like expensive prescription drugs, struggling to hold on to their homes in a still-collapsing housing market and a tightening rental market, working two or three jobs to provide the basics of food and shelter and clothing and heat – in the so-called “richest nation on earth.”

Where’s the hope? Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?

Continue reading

December 27, 2007 Posted by | America, Economy, Education, Election '08, Family, Global Warming, Government, Health, Iraq, Politics, SCHIP, US Military, Veterans, War | 1 Comment

Friday Anti-War Song (Belated)

What can I say? Life’s busy, and sometimes you wake up and realize you’re running a day behind.

This one’s for Dick Cheney, living in his little bubble-universe where the Iraq war is going well after the soldiers were greeted with flowers and candy, the economy is doing great, and El Pollo Loco is the greatest President since Lincoln.

I wonder how many of us will attend Darth Cheney’s funeral, just to make sure he’s dead?

*

MASTERS OF WAR
Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

;

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

February 24, 2007 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Civil War, Condoleeza Rice, Economy, Government, Iraq, Middle East, Music, Pentagon, Politics, Protest, Rumsfeld, US Military, War, Whacko Nut Cases, White House | Leave a comment

Israel attacks Lebanon

Lots of worries on my mind today:

Israel is bombing the sh*t out of Lebanon in retaliation for two of its soldiers being kidnapped by Hezbollah. They’ve been attacking Gaza in retaliation for the kidnapping of another soldier.

The Middle East is about to flare like drought-dry timber in the West when an idiot tosses a cigarette butt out the window rather than stubbing it out in the ashtray.

While everyone else is telling Israel they’re overreating just a little, Nitwit….The Decidererer…President Bush says Israel “has the right to defend itself.” Uh, hello?? If there were actually air and rocket attacks on Israel, I could see this as being a defense. (UPDATE: Seems I read the report at MSNBC wrong. Hezbollah did fire rockets into Israel.) But Israel’s response is still more like someone pulling an Uzi and shooting up the neighborhood just because someone put a dent in their car – and the Army telling the victims that it was done in self-defense.

Not to mention that Bush immediately blows right past the people actually responsible and threatens Iran and Syria. More at The Left Coaster.

Also making me worry: Unemployment rolls increased by 19,000 last week. Oil went over $76/barrel, before lowering slightly, but it wasn’t enough to calm Wall Street. White House staffers (not the ones on the low end of the totem pole, naturally) got a $4200 cost-of-living increase in their salaries. Meanwhile, wages for actual working Americans remain stagnant, prices have increased on everything – most especially gasoline – so we’re working harder but buying less.

As a result, working Americans struggle to provide the basics while the bottom line for the richest and their corporations is increasing exponentially.

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), via The Left Coaster:

From 2003 to 2004, the average incomes of the bottom 99 percent of households grew by less than 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, the average incomes of the top one percent of households experienced a jump of almost 17 percent, after adjusting for inflation. (Census data show that real median income fell between 2003 and 2004. Average income is pulled up by gains at the top of the income spectrum; the 3 percent rise among the bottom 99 percent seems to largely reflect gains by households in the top quintile of the income spectrum. In contrast, trends in median income capture the experience of households in the middle of the income spectrum.)

[snip]


[snip]

Income gains were even more pronounced among those with the very highest incomes. The incomes of the top one-tenth of one percent of households grew more rapidly than the incomes of the top one percent of households. The share of the national income received by the top one tenth of one percent of households increased by 1.3 percentage points from 2003 to 2004; in other words, more than half of the increased share of income going to the top one percent of households actually went to the top one-tenth of one percent of households.

[snip]

It should be noted that wage and salary growth has been unusually weak during this recovery, while the growth of corporate profits has been exceptionally strong. This contributes to growing income inequality, since high-income households own a highly disproportionate share of corporate assets and derive significant income from those assets. With weaker-than-normal wage growth and stronger-than-normal growth in corporate profits having continued into the first part of 2006, it is likely that the increase in income inequality that Piketty and Saez have documented through 2004 has continued since that time and that the nation’s already-large disparities in income are growing yet wider.

As you can see from the chart above, the last time we saw income share disparity like this, we were heading into the Great Depression.

At this point, and considering the Imbecile-in-Chief and his band of Merry Minions who are in charge, I don’t know what to fear more: a second Great Depression, or a third World War.

July 13, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Conservatives, Economy, Employment, Gas Prices, Government, Middle East, Plame case, Republicans, War, White House | 5 Comments

Families in debt for basics

In case you're one of the few completely unaffected by stagnant wages and increased costs of living, you probably didn't know this. The rest of America, on the other hand, knows it all too well:

People aren't going into debt because of outrageous spending on expensive TVs or sports cars or second homes. Most of them are just trying to keep the homes they have.

From Kirstin Downey in the Washington Post:

Why are Americans so deeply in debt? It's not because they are using credit cards to buy plasma TVs and premium coffee drinks at Starbucks. [*cough* Rick Santorum *cough*] The real culprits, according to a new analysis, are the rising costs of housing, health care and education.The debt of the typical American family earning about $45,000 a year rose 33.1 percent from 2001 to 2004, after adjusting for inflation, according to a study based on data compiled from the Federal Reserve Board's most recent Survey of Consumer Finances. The Fed report, released in February, gave raw numbers on debt levels.

[snip]

Real wages, after adjusting for inflation, have been flat since 2001, according to the study, while the cost of big-ticket items for which families pay the most rose. In the past five years, the costs of medical care, housing, food, cars and household operations rose 11.2 percent, the study said. Many families are trying to make up the difference by borrowing, according to Christian E. Weller, author of the report and a senior economist at the center.

"Very little can be explained by frivolous consumer spending," Weller said. His views were echoed in a news conference by Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard University who analyzed the sources of debt that emerge in bankruptcy filings and reviewed the results of Weller's study.

"The average American family is walking a high wire and hoping there won't be a high wind," Warren said. [emphasis mine]

Housing debt has climbed notably because home prices have risen and people have borrowed against the equity in their homes. From 1989 to 2004, for example, the median mortgage debt more than doubled, from $46,900 to $96,000.

That is all. Please feel free to return to watching American Idol and Survivor and Desperate Housewives, and ignore all signs of impending disaster.

May 24, 2006 Posted by | Congress, Economy, Family, Gas Prices, Government, Politics | 4 Comments

Pork replaces Katrina & Iraq spending

Not that I'm surprised one bit, but isn't it nice to know that our Congr– the Republican-controlled Congress cares about its people…the rich corporate ones, that is.

From Peter Whoriskey in the Washington Post:

This city's east side remains largely abandoned, a bleak panorama of empty lots and abandoned homes left behind by the tradesmen, shrimpers and casino workers who once lived here.

Hundreds had little or no insurance. For people such as 83-year-old Elzora Brown, a retired dry-cleaning presser whose little frame house was waterlogged up to the eaves, there's not enough federal disaster aid for repairs. "Whatever the Lord sees fit, that's what I'll have," she said.

Just down the coast in Pascagoula, defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. similarly didn't have enough insurance to cover hurricane losses at its shipyards. But the company isn't awaiting divine intervention.

It had an ally in the U.S. Senate and is slated to receive $140 million for rebuilding.

[snip]

Critics have pointed to the bill as a monumental example of earmarking taken to extremes, with many noting that while the bill was supposed to address "emergency" spending for the war and Katrina relief, many of the outlays had little to do with an emergency, the war or the hurricane.

Usually the critics attack earmarks as wasteful, but the experience in Mississippi reveals another problem, according to some local officials here. No one doubts that the state needs recovery money. The question is whether some of the earmarks for Gulf Coast projects such as Northrop's are coming at the expense of the urgent needs reflected in the abandoned streets.

[snip]

Among the projects in the Senate version of the bill are $38 million to repair historic Mississippi properties such as Jefferson Davis's home overlooking the beach in Biloxi; $176 million to build a military retirement home in Gulfport; and the biggest project, $700 million to buy an 80-mile stretch of railroad over which a new highway would be built. That project, which has become known as the "railroad to nowhere," was inserted into the bill by Lott and Mississippi's other senator, Thad Cochran (R), chairman of the Appropriations Committee. It would reroute a train line damaged by Katrina — and already rebuilt at a cost of at least $250 million. [emphasis mine]

[snip]

"What they're saying to Northrop Grumman is 'Here — here's $140 million. Go get yourself back together,' " said Bill Stallworth, a Biloxi City Council member running a relief center out of a church building here. "What we're saying is 'Look, people, we need more money to get people back in their homes. We need housing. Volunteers can't do it all.' " He said that if the volunteer building crews he uses could just hire a handful of licensed plumbers and electricians, they could increase the number of homes being rebuilt in the area from 10 a month to 100. But there isn't enough money.

Welcome to BushWorld….where money goes where it's least needed. 

What none of these Congressional piggies seem to realize is that giving money to corporations and pet projects – under the guise of re-starting the economy –  in an area where people have no homes is just plain stupid. Most places would see a more effective, longer-term boost to their economies if the people are spending on home improvements and the like.

Read the full article here

 

May 24, 2006 Posted by | Congress, Culture of Corruption, Economy, FEMA, Government, Hurricane Katrina, Politics, Republicans, White House | 2 Comments

Rats and sinking ships

We all know things are bad for His Chimpiness….'Chokes-on-Pretzel'….the President, but now, the rats are really flinging themselves off this Titanic-sized disaster of a Presidency.

USA Today founder, Al Neuharth, a man Editor and Publisher says was "once known for his generally Republican views" had this to say in an Op-Ed piece today:

From USA Today:

May Day on May 1 in the USA used to be a celebration of various nice rites of spring. Internationally, it was a workers' holiday, especially in socialist countries such as the former USSR.

Now, it has become a make-believe day in the USA. And a Mayday internationally, as in the universally recognized SOS distress signal.

[snip]

How low can Bush's approval rating go? My hunch is it's at or near the bottom. That 34% represents mostly unshakeable far-right wingers. Like Bush, Vice President Cheney and company, they are in denial. As were the 24% in the polls who still approved of President Richard Nixon before he resigned in disgrace.

What happened to the 37% who have switched from pro-Bush to anti-Bush? They finally realized they were suckered by Bush and his buddies back then about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, his tie to terrorists and his threat to the USA.

President Abraham Lincoln was right when he said: "You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." [emphasis mine]

 

May 5, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Congress, Culture of Corruption, Economy, Iraq, Politics, Republicans, War, White House | Leave a comment

Neither a lender nor a borrower be…

I don't pretend to understand the high-brow, deeply boring world of economics. What I know is the low-brow, surviving paycheck-to-paycheck, world of economizing.

Money out should at least equal, but preferably be less than the money in. This can be expressed as a mathematical formula: Mo =/- Mi. (I made that up, in case you didn't guess.)

If what you spend is more than what you earn, you've got trouble.

Someone needs to go teach this to His Emperorness….The Decider…the President.

Here's how I explained it to my nineteen-year-old after he got his first credit card: When you [the country] are spending everything you earn, as fast as you get it, on dumb sh*t like stereos and junk food [or wasting it in Iraq and building expensive bridges no one needs] that's bad enough. What you don't do – ever – is cut your work hours [taxes], resulting in less income, while still spending like there's no tomorrow.

That is how you accrue what we like to call 'debt'.

Debt is bad.

Very bad.

People who go deep into debt either from stupidly running up bills they haven't the means to pay, or due to catastrophic expenses, like medical bills, have two choices: end up working for years while living on mac and cheese and ketchup soup to repay those debts – or declare bankruptcy.

They DO NOT get to decide, "Hey, I'm already in debt, let's dive a little deeper." and continue to take out loans and borrow off friends and then say, "You know what? I think I'm going to quit my job and find one that pays 1/3 of what I'm making now!"

Which is what our federal government has done. Escalating war costs (over $278,122,694,710 and rising at a rate of about $2500 a second!), Hurricane Katrina and Rita rebuilding, vanishing reconstruction funds in Iraq, etc., etc. have created a budget deficit of $8,368,889,670,284 – that's TRILLION, with a T – and counting.

We are in debt up to our ears to China which loaned money that, in effect, pays only the INTEREST on those loans. What happens if they decide to call in their markers?

The United States is like an out-of-control teenager. Some kids go nuts once they're on their own – taking out loans on sports cars that they can just barely afford, then using their first credit cards – that were supposed to be for emergencies only – to make the payment because OOPSIE, they forgot to balance their checkbook and it turns out they're $300 in debt to the bank for bounced checks and overdraft fees.

Then, the next month, they lose their job and can't make the credit card payment, they can't write a check, and they can't pay the car loan because they decided to hold a party. They managed to beg and borrow from some friends, but they still aren't working, so now they owe everyone, and they've hit their limit on the credit card. And so on.

From the Associated Press

Bush, who has made tax cuts his signature domestic issue, said extending the tax cuts would provide certainty in the tax code and foster business investment.

“If the people have their way who want this tax relief to expire, the American people will be hit with $2.4 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade,” he said. “It would be handed over to government — that’s where the money would go. It would be taken out of the economy and given to people here in Washington, D.C., to spend.”

Unfortunately, that 2.4 trillion is one-fourth of the current debt, which is rising at a rate of almost $1100 per second! Too bad the 'people here in Washington, D.C' who've been in charge – and control both houses of Congress – haven't had the sense over the past five and a half years to do anything except spend like there's no tomorrow.

Someone needs to practice some tough love and put this country back on a budget. Making these tax cuts permanent helps no one because it continues a policy of "spend and spend, but don't earn a dime" that the current crop of Republicans has perfected.

You think a tax increase now is bad? Imagine what the federal debt will be five or ten years without it. And imagine how high taxes will be then, because the country is going to have to pay off this enormous deficit sooner or later. And later just means higher interest on top of higher debt.

May 4, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Congress, Economy, Federal Debt, Government, Politics, Republicans, White House | Leave a comment

Oil Companies and the High Price of Gasoline

Is there anyone in the US who isn't complaining about the high cost of fuel and – until recently – the high cost of home heating? Okay – anyone who isn't a) mega-rich or b) linked to Big Oil?

Big Oil shared its first-quarter profit sheets with the world, and – surprise – they're seeing record profits. Here's a few:

Chevron$4 billion profit

Exxon $8.4 billion profit

ConocoPhillips$3.29 billion profit
BP$5.6 billion profit

And, remember, this is profit. This is what's left after all the expenses are taken out.

Can someone explain how this works? Big Oil (and its friends in the White House) are telling us that this is just a result of high demand and low supply and/or refining capabilities, and that they're suffering too.

But, they're seeing record profits, which would suggest to me that they could afford to lower their prices and still make a few bucks. Especially since their little buddy Bush isn't going to make them pay taxes on their record profits.

From Business Week online:

President Bush on Friday rejected calls in Congress for a tax on oil company profits, saying the industry should reinvest its recent windfalls in finding and producing more energy.

"The temptation in Washington is to tax everything," Bush said in an exchange with reporters in the White House Rose Garden. Rather than for the government to reap the benefit from oil company profits driven by the recent surge in global oil prices, he said, "the answer is for there to be strong re-investment."

"These oil prices are a wakeup call," Bush said. "We're dependent on oil. We need to get off oil."

He doesn't really mean that part about getting off oil, of course. He said the same thing in his State of the Union address, but then turned around and issued a clarification that said he didn't really mean cutting our oil consumption.

These prices are a wakeup call, alright – the one that says the faster we get Big Oil and its buddies out of the White House, the better.

April 29, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Congress, Culture of Corruption, Economy, Gas Prices, Government, Politics, White House | 2 Comments

The GOP’s Albatross

George W. Bush's job approval rating continues to drop. A CNN poll shows that only 32% of Americans approve of Chokes-On-Pretzel's job performance. Interestingly, 8% of the American population lives under a rock and doesn't know if he's doing a good job or not. (I'm guessing these are the same people responsible for shows like Pimp My Ride and Fear Factor…)

A few reasons for this? Oil prices, gasoline prices, Katrina, veterans, Iraq, Iran – to name a very few. 

He certainly doesn't help his cause by uttering stuff like this:

From Editor and Publisher, via HuffPo:

Bush said he'd sat in a California church on Sunday near a mother and stepfather grieving for their son who had been killed in Iraq. "I also want to let you know that before you commit troops that you must do everything that you can to solve the problem diplomatically," he commented. "And I can look you in the eye and tell you I feel I tried to solve the problem diplomatically to the max and would have committed troops both in Afghanistan and Iraq, knowing what I know today."

Or this:

"I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true," he said. "One, I believe there's an Almighty."

Karl Rove is going to really have to work his a$$ off! Smearing and swift-boating the opposition may not be enough when the President is doing such an amazing job of making himself unlikable to everyone who isn't a rabid right-wing religious zealot. A huge part of Rove's job this year will be keeping the Congressional Republicans from jumping ship.

At this point, "rearranging deck chairs" isn't quite the appropriate analogy for the administration. I'm reminded more of the part in Titanic, when the ship rises up on its nose before sliding into the ocean, and – in sheer desperation to avoid being taken down with the ship – people started flinging themselves off the stern.

I wonder which administration official will end up being the guy who hits the propeller on the way down? 

April 24, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Congress, Economy, Media, Politics, White House | Leave a comment