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Number of posts: 213
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Posts by Lee Leslie:
- Health care reform – dead in the house and frozen in the senate until Anthem/Blue Cross announces billions in earnings along with huge policy price increases and the tea party takes the Kennedy senate seat.
- Wall Street reform – seemingly dead in the Senate, then record-breaking Wall Street profits, revelations of sinister-sounding, but all too routine conflicts and manipulation, then Goldman Sachs was indicted.
Most of us have grown use to the Bush era security lapses. A trillion or so squandered on a faux war on terror. Hundreds of billions more flushed down the toilet of Homeland Security. Then a story breaks by ProPublica, Washington Post and the New York Times – our government knew of the Mumbai plot two years in advance and did nothing. Despite the the all tough-on-terror spin, trashing of the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Convention, and enriching their defense contractor cronies, the Republicans again proved that they were inept at security as they were at waging war, managing the economy, mitigating disasters, educating our young, caring for wounded veterans, or telling the truth. But that isn’t the part of the story that has me losing faith. I have this naïve belief that what makes our society civilized is voluntarily compliance with our common values.
The long awaited sequel to Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract On America,” is out. Here are cliff notes. A summary of sorts inspired by Cliff Hillegrass’ original, but written for the lemmings expected to be led and fall from the cliff.
Overall: Republicans pledge to reconnect with their version of the “permanent truth” of long-buried, rich, slave-owning white men – none of whom were Baptist – who lived in a time before indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, telephones, television, internets, rights for women or people of color, automatic weapons, predator drones, polling, political action committees, Republicans, Democrats, citizenship, elections, Wall Street, public libraries, credit cards, corporations, health insurance, retirement plans, banks, dollars, and the life expectancy was about 30.
Lawmakers are back to work this week after the long Labor Day recess. With elections just six weeks away and so many millions of Americans suffering poverty, unemployment, facing eviction, bankruptcy, hunger or without medical care, let’s take a look at how are representatives are going to prove to the voters that they take their jobs seriously.
In addition to prayers, committee meetings, general housekeeping and endless requests for things to be read into the record that didn’t actually occur, here’s what is on this week’s schedule in both chambers, I kid you not…
I have a friend who remarried his first wife. It worked out about the way one would expect. As he was sitting in the court room in what was the second divorce from the same woman, he was called to rise before the judge to hear the order, “Mr. McKelvey,” the judge began, “I see here that you have already been granted a divorce from this woman once before.”
“Yes, your honor,” my friend humbly submitted.
“Mr. McKelvey, in South Carolina, we only allow one divorce per woman. Surely you can understand anyone who’d need two deserves what he gets.”
“There’s something about white people,” Bull said as he sat down beside me on the stone wall overlooking the shopping gauntlet of the Saturday Green Market in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, “they want everything.”
Bull’s given name is Tony and I’ve know him for three years. As one might suspect, Bull didn’t get his nickname for awkward moments in a china shop. In his mid-fifties, he’s affable, homeless and pretty much knows how to stay out of trouble with the homeless police*. Bull went on to tell me, while punctuating each phrase with a pause and a laugh, “You know, money’s no good for holding on to. It’s got to keep moving. That’s why they do it – always buying stuff.”
An economic analogy.
We have been preventing and fighting forest fires for a couple of hundred years believing it was the best way to preserve our forests and our way of life. We were wrong.
Left to themselves, naturally occurring forest fires were frequent, slow moving and limited. These fires cleared the weak, dead or dying trees. These fires burned the brush and vegetation from the forest floor, which supports destructive insects and has become the fuel of the major fires we know today. These fires diversified the environment, made the soil richer and forced the trees to develop thicker bark, which protected them from the heat…
So Blago’s guilty of lying, but after six and half years of Justice Department investigations, many millions spent, federal prosecutors couldn’t convince 12 of his peers that he was guilty of any of the other 23 charges. Blago will likely be re-tried.
Our hemisphere is having the hottest summer ever recorded – wildfires in Russia, an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan has broken off Greenland, and Pakistan has more than 20 million affected by flooding with 8+ million in desperate need of food and clean water – yet, the Climate and Energy Bill is being held hostage by Senate Republicans who continue to deny global climate change has been caused by their hot air.
I was called for jury duty this week. Having polled the 300 jurors-in-waiting for Fulton County Court, our judgement was unanimous: if the price of voting is jury duty, we need to demand better candidates.
It is a tradition to bitch and moan about being called to jury duty, but with almost no exception, those of us summoned, recognized that jury duty is a humbling honor. Plus, it is a once a year chance to be in a room for a day filled with your peers.
Now when he saw the ratings, he went up on each of the networks and sat down. His disciples tuned in to him, and he began to teach them saying:
Damned are the poor and unemployed, for theirs is the kingdom of the street.
Damned are those who mourn, for they will be mocked.
Damned are the meek, for they will inherit the nothing, though it will be tax free.
Damned are those who hunger and thirst for leftedness, for they will suffer and starve.
Damned are the merciful, for they will be shown no mercy.
Damned are the pure in heart, for they will be blind to my truth.
ATLANTA — Today, President Obama announced to the National Convention of Disabled Veterans of America that he is keeping one of his campaign promises – America’s longest war will be unofficially* over on August 31, 2010. Twenty years and eight months since our Middle East invasion. More than 4,000 American lives have been lost and 30,000+ wounded or disabled. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians lost or maimed and millions more have been displaced or are refugees. An estimated five million orphaned children.
WADR for those in romantic relationships with a banker and actually want it in the ass, the banking industry, aka: we caused the greatest depression since the last and are too big to fail this election cycle so we get money for the Fed for as close to nothing as is measurable and may or may not lend it to you for 33.3% plus fees, are, surprise, taking advantage of real, or will be real loopholes in the passed, but not litigated, totally ruled or commented, but well-monikered Credit Card Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. Duh? Just what do you think more than a million dollars a day will buy in DC? Dinners? Jets? Sex? Condos in Puerto Rico? Elections? Sure, but the money is really for the details and the details are for loopholes.
I defriended my cousin on Facebook. My father’s mother’s brother’s son. I feel bad about it, but he had stepped over the virtual line we had drawn by posting another pseudo-political diatribe/comment on my wall. My cousin’s belief system has little room for fact and he has found that Facebook is the perfect pulpit for his sputem-stained dogma. Please don’t misunderstand, I have tremendous respect and admiration for people of faith – especially, religious faith, faith in aliens, faith in spouses, children, the dollar – that sort of thing.
Alert Dewsletter readers may have noticed their “Sunday Dews” arriving Saturday. Oops, my bad. Our automated email system failed overnight and a manual replacement version had to be created. As I hit the send button, I yelled out to my sleeping wife, “Your Sunday Dewsletter was just sent.” With her eyes still closed, she yelled back, “it’s Saturday.”
We have a bug in our email system that has caused subscribers to receive multiple Dewsletters the last two weekends. We thought we had it fixed. We’ll work it on it some more. No telling what’s going to happen on the real Sunday. Please bear with us.
Goldman Sachs had revenues of $13.4 billion last year not including the $10 billion in bailout money. Without admitting wrong for helping former Treasury Secretary now hedge-fund billionaire Hank Paulson bilk investors by packaging and selling toxic mortgages designed to fail, Goldman has agreed to settle civil fraud charges for an amount equal to about two week’s revenue, $550 million, plus $1.3 million for lobbying and politicians. Were Goldman Sachs the first and last name of a person, they would be in jail and pennyless. As a corporation, their stock went up over $3 billion after the announcement.
A recently discovered, candid, but politically incorrect draft with last minute changes.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 2^4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for rich^one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and more than equal station to which the Laws of Capitalism^Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Our health insurance was canceled last month. We have joined the ranks of the uninsured. Collateral damage in health care reform and the race to parse the regulations, drive trucks of cash through the loopholes and squeeze every dollar out of every soul still breathing.
Payments were current. We had not made a claim that exceeded our deductible in couple of years. Nothing had changed. And we weren’t even told until three weeks after it had happened. There’s no appeal. No reason required. No COBRA. It is just gone. And it was done on purpose.
*+-If you don’t have a phone, you can’t hang up on them.
Land lines have become quaint. It is almost funny to think that, here we are in 2010, and yet, some people still use those old style telephones that require wires to plug into the wall in order to work. Way back in 2004, more than 90% of households had a landline. In 2009, 25% of households are cell phone only.
“Why is this a political story,” you might ask? It is against federal law* to use the automated dialers, which most pollsters use, to call cell phones. Add to that the number of households who primarily use their cell phones (cell dependent) and screen their landlines, and you begin to see a larger problem accurately projecting poll numbers.
*+-Something sinister must have occurred to start the cycle we are in now.
A cycle in which our political center has moved. When being “pro-business” became more politically popular than being “pro-worker.” When being for “free markets” could rally crowds and “consumer protection” would bring on “boos.” When prosecuting a “war on terrorism” stokes jingoism instead of fears of “nation building,” while “presumption of innocence,” “due process” and the “right to counsel” was the treasonous coddling of our enemies. When “gun rights” became more important than “insuring domestic tranquility.” When “faith” could claim a higher standing than “fact,” or “truth,” or “science.”
*+-The only thing to fear is them themselves.
It is going around. There are at least ten other states, Utah, Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska among them, considering anti-immigration laws in the same spirit as the one passed by Arizona (ThinkProgress.org). Arizona’s new law requires law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” So, what would make you reasonably suspect someone? Language? Accent? Skin color? Hair type? Height? Weight? Surname? Intelligence? Car type? Living conditions? No driver’s license? Proximity to the border with Mexico? All of the above? Yes, that would be profiling. Constitutional? No telling from this court.
Let’s take a quick look at recent legislative initiatives and the relationship of opposition-killing news events:
*+-Health care reform doesn’t go into effect for 3 more years, so why is it costing really really big businesses so much right now? In the last month, company after company has announced quarterly earnings and included huge accounting charges for health care costs.
“Why? For what? And should we be scared shitless?” Glad you asked. First off, except for exercising their Supreme Court given right to paid free speech, which resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on lobbyists to fight the health care reform bill, it hasn’t cost big business a nickel. Nothing. Nada.
*+-What an amazing session. To watch and listen to the 10+ hour session and the debates, one could have a sense of how truly difficult it is for a bill to pass – much less anything as important, historic or intelligible. It is no wonder that it took more than one hundred years to pass a health care bill that will have such dramatic and direct impact on every American’s* life.
While the celebrity stars of the drama will get the appreciation (or vitriol) of the political junkies and news and opinion readers, I believe it is time to acknowledge those who do not – those long-suffering, unsung Congresspeople, so often scorned, forgotten and reelected.
*+-Updated 3/19/201o to include the House Reconciliation Bill & CBO estimate.
The Democrats say it is going to pass – maybe this week. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read all 2,009 pages (depending on which version you count) of the Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA: HR 3590) and or even the 74 page summary – and, the 153 page House Reconciliation Act of 2010 (AKA: HR 4872), I thought you might like to know what’s in it for you. And when.
*+-Ed and Harriet have a zip line that begins at the top of a six-foot ladder tied to a 300+ year old live oak at one end of their backyard. It dead ends 100 feet later into a blanket padded tree at the other end.
High speed zipping through the yard while screaming at the top of one’s lungs is great fun, but not a team sport. Only one thrill ride can occur at a time. Fighting for who goes next gets old faster than they do. Watching is totally tame. Ed, who just turned nine and sister, Harriet, who turns eight next week, wanted more. Some way to scream louder. Get dirtier. And challenge the borders of their visiting playmate/grandfather.
*+-A few months ago a certain head of a certain private SC university called me a “fatalist.” I’m not. I’m an American. Americans are always optimists. I’m just near the top of my personal bell curve of cynicism. It seemed at the time, for good cause, but not now.
A new study just out for 2009 (Obama took office in 2010) says that despite the record unemployment, layoffs, furloughs, downsizing, off-shoring, Wall Street crash, real estate crash, and worst depression since Prozac was allowed to advertise on TV, it seems that millionaires in the US grew by 16% to 7.8 million and those whose worth is over $5 million was up 17%. It goes on to project that the concentration of wealth should it continue as it did during the Bush years, it will have us looking like Mexico in 2048*. Now I know what you are thinking: that will solve the illegal immigration problem. See? I’m not a fatalist.
*+-For anyone who would like to know how the economic meltdown could happen and when it will happen it again, you just have to see this show: PBS Frontline: The Warning. As you’d expect, it stars a bunch of rich powerful middle-aged white men in courageous battle to protect Ayn Rand’s dream of unfettered capitalism against one woman, Brooksley Born, who dared to raise her hand and suggest that the super secret, totally unregulated, multi-trillion dollar derivatives markets needed adult supervision. It is riveting. Find out how we hunted down those responsible and made sure they can’t do it to us again. Spend a few minutes strolling memory lane with the greatest leaders of our lives: Ford, Reagan, Greenspan, Clinton, Rubin, Gramm and others. Here’s a 4 minute preview: Click here to see the timeline. Click here to watch The Warning on the PBS website. Click here to see what […]
*+-Driving on the interstates is inherently irrational. To think that the drivers of all those other cars would voluntarily and routinely entrust theirs and their family’s lives to me is nuts. Based solely on a ten minute driving test in high school, with no knowledge of my driving skills, my car maintenance or my attention span, and regardless of whether I’m returning a call, Twittering, checking email, drinking coffee or booze, locating an iPod playlist, picking my nose, watching a DVD, lost or lost in thought, they have enough faith in me to share the highway at speeds guaranteed to to kill and maim. With my car aimed directly at theirs, they ride along fearlessly believing they are more likely to fall asleep from boredom than my minimum breaking distance. Why do they do it? What makes where they are going so important? Why do they trust me completely at […]
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