Another Morning Fiasco With Joe!

Guest Blogger Staci

I’m watching Morning Joe, and screaming at my television.  The “conversations” being promoted today are especially aggravating for me as really simple arguments can be put forth to debunk them, yet Joe and his crew are laying out bullshit as if it’s paving the road to economic survival of this country.

Stimulus didn’t work

This narrative drives me nuts.  First of all, there is no way possible to prove to people that if there had been no stimulus, this economy would have surely tanked for the next generation – if this is their mindset.  I think most people have forgotten the effect on both the psyche and the markets, when the government allowed Lehman Brothers to collapse.  The following day, the stock market fell over 504 points, a 4.42% loss of assets IN ONE DAY.  Two weeks later, when Congress voted down Hank Paulson’s three-page joke of a stimulus plan the market ended the day with a 733 point drop, an additional 7.87% loss of wealth.  We’re talking about the retirement plans of a lot of people taking a huge negative hit. I worked for a financial planning company at the time.  I did the reviews on the effects of the stocks on these retirement plans.  I saw so many company plans lose in the tens of millions of dollars between that time and when Obama signed the stimulus.  For all the people crying today, take a look at your 401(k) statements from the end of 2008 and right now and keep a straight face while telling me that the stimulus didn’t work.

Secondly, I hear the laughter at the jobs saved statistic, but nobody said it better than President Obama when he was on The View and Elizabeth Hasselbeck mocked this viewpoint.  Obama said, and I paraphrase here, it would matter if it were your job that was saved.  I’ll add this, too.  It would also change your opinion if your burning house were saved because the firehouse in your neighborhood stayed open due to stimulus dollars, or the school in your neighborhood didn’t have to increase class size for your kid because so many teachers had to be laid off.   This conversation is so stupid on its face, that it amazes me how many people will argue until they are blue – that the stimulus didn’t work.

Government Spending  vs. Household spending

This comparison is not just apples to oranges, but more like comparing the budget of a single person to the needs of the Duggars, that family with the 19 kids.  As a single person, you can make a decision to only eat macaroni and cheese because that’s what you can afford, and it could be considered financially responsible for you to live within your means.  If you’re the Duggars and you’ve got kids to feed, you better add some fruits, vegetables and milk to your grocery list of bare needs essentials.  A single person can decide to forego insurance because it’s too cost prohibitive.  The Duggars had better have some form of insurance around with that many kids.  Now, you don’t only have basic I-don’t-feel-good stuff to be concerned with.  Somebody is going to break something, or have an illness serious enough to require hospitalization or need immunizations.  Comparing those two budgets is as goofy as expecting the government to mirror the financial decisions of a household.  Medicare and Medicaid insure millions of people regardless of cost.  The food stamp program is the only means for getting groceries for families across the country and the cost for this program has increased tremendously just in the last two years.  There was also that little cost issue associated with fighting two wars.  So, to the people who want the government to cut spending, these are their three biggest costs.  Where do you want the cuts to begin?

Rich got richer in last 18 months

You betcha!  I know a guy that bought 20,000 shares of Bank of America stock when it was down to a buck.  B of A today is trading at $13.55.  Do the math.  Who better than Wall Street brokers knew when to buy and when to sit on their hands and preserve their wealth?  Any stockbroker who didn’t “get rich” in the last two years is probably not the guy I would want to watch my money.  I don’t think they are villains because they’re in possession of knowledge and know-how that I didn’t learn.  Hell, ain’t that what America is supposed to be about?

To sum it all up, shows like Morning Joe stoke the fears and emotions of the masses with these stupid arguments.  They all know better, and I guess that’s what makes me so angry.


Tax Rates In Perspective!

Steve Benen has another great post up about the tax debate and reminds us, with the help of others, that the wealthy are paying less than they have for many, many years. Look at this chart for visual proof, courtesy of…

Of course the top rate really doesn’t have much to do with how much they actually pay. I saw this great comment over at Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog, Go – from GrafZeppelin127

I could go on and on… taxable vs. adjusted gross vs. gross income … marginal tax rates on the -last- dollars, not the first … deductions vs. exemptions vs. credits … gross revenue vs. net profit … Schedule C …

There is so much about how the federal tax system works that so many people try so hard not to understand when it comes to political debates about taxes, and it’s frustrating to someone who does understand it. I get sick of pointing out that income is taxed, not people. I get sick of pointing out that only profits are taxed, not revenues. I get sick of pointing out that a rich person pays the same tax on the first X dollars of his income as a poor person who only makes X. I get sick of pointing out that rich people have a lot more untaxed or tax-deferred income than poor people, meaning rich people are taxed per annum on a smaller percentage of their total income than poor people. I get sick of pointing out the money businesses use to “create jobs” is not taxed against that business by the federal government. I get sick of pointing out that a business that makes zero profit or operates at a loss pays no federal income tax. I get sick of pointing out that no one “creates jobs” using his personal, after-tax income.

You can’t expect people to understand things when something in which they have a personal stake depends on their not understanding it.

That says a lot in a paragraph. I am saving it for ammunition against the brain dead people on the right who really have no clue and simply spout Republican talking points. I was fortunate to grow up in a wealthy home, after my mother remarried (my dad died when I was 6 in 1968), and I was fortunate to have a mom and step dad who were liberals. My parents didn’t mind paying their fair share, were lifelong Democrats and pretty much kept the local Mission running. They used to get phone calls from the Mission when they were running low on funds and my mom and dad would write them a check. We used to see homeless people wearing my dads donated clothes around the mission, colorful golf pants, expensive shoes…driving by the mission was sometimes humorous, we had the best dressed homeless people in the state. So I learned as a teenager that those who are more fortunate than others should help their fellow man. I try continue that legacy to this day.

Lastly, for anyone keeping score……that project I was waiting to hear about…’s a go. I’m off to New York City next week to sign the contracts and work out the shooting schedule and other details. Once the papers are signed, I’ll share the project with you in case anyone is curious. I can’t wait to make some extra money so I can help out my struggling community.

Watch The Republicans Run David Brooks Out On A Rail!

Steve Benen has a post up about a David Brooks column that will probably cause David all sorts of trouble on the right, but I guess he has burned a lot of those bridges already. My observation of David Brooks is that he really blows in the wind with his opinions. He is the definition of hypocrisy in many ways and often traps himself in his own logic. But I find myself agreeing with him sometimes in between his contortions. Here is a piece from Steve Benen’s post…

In his speech in Ohio last week, President Obama tried to explain that the underlying cause of American progress can be entirely non-partisan. Democrats made Social Security, the minimum wage, the GI Bill, Medicare, civil rights, workers’ rights, and women’s rights a reality, but “we also recognize that throughout our history, there has been a noble Republican vision … of what this country can be.”The president noted that it was Lincoln who used the power of the federal government to set up the first land-grant colleges and launch the transcontinental railroad; it was Teddy Roosevelt who broke up monopolies; it was Dwight Eisenhower who built the Interstate Highway System; and it was Ronald Reagan who worked with Democrats to help save Social Security for future generations.

Apparently the President’s speech prompted David Brooks to write this next bit that will surely piss off most of the people leading the Republican Party these days, you know, “The Party of No”…

Throughout American history, in other words, there have been leaders who regarded government like fire — a useful tool when used judiciously and a dangerous menace when it gets out of control. They didn’t build their political philosophy on whether government was big or not. Government is a means, not an end. They built their philosophy on making America virtuous, dynamic and great. They supported government action when it furthered those ends and opposed it when it didn’t.

If the current Republican Party regards every new bit of government action as a step on the road to serfdom, then the party will be taking this long, mainstream American tradition and exiling it from the G.O.P.

That is Republican blasphemy. Elections have consequences and the ascension of the Tea Party and the rest of the crazies within the GOP is causing a lot of rifts within the Grand Ole’ Party. It is up to us Democrats to help drive that wedge between the two factions. Rub salt in those wounds. Kick them while they are down. Give them that little shove they need to go over the cliff. Isn’t politics fun?

Wake Up Democrats, We Can Win!

For years, Republicans have used the media to create new realities. They do it by using repetition and by spreading the message far and wide. They of course have set up many venues for spreading their talking points and alternate realities, Rush Limbaugh and countless other right-wing radio hosts, Fox News’ entire programming, CNN is played like a cheap violin because they bend over backwards to give two sides to every issue, including facts and MSNBC has an obsession with polls even more than the rest of the cable news networks.  They don’t seem to care much who commissioned the poll and whether the methodology was sound or not. New polls get them all excited and they love them some lower thirds graphics that scream the latest poll results.

From my perspective, I’ve watched as the Republicans went from being completely marginalized, losing control of both branches of government and having no real leaders, which continues to this day – to somehow being ahead in generic polls and now the pundits are saying they are going to take control of the House of Representatives in November. How did they do it? By forming a unified front and setting out to block every single thing that the Obama administration attempts, by feeding misinformation into the psyche of the American electorate, by throwing red meat to the uninformed masses with all sorts of subtle and not so subtle appeals to racism, by outright lying with the help of the idiot media and the hired right-wing media, by forcing the administration to the middle with their unified front which has caused the White House to negotiate with the conservadems and moderate Republicans in order to pass ANYTHING, which has caused the “firebaggers” like Jane Hamser, Cenk Uygur, Ed Schultz, Taylor Marsh and Arianna Huffington to start attacking him from the left flank. This has served to demoralize the base with some of those turncoats actually encouraging their readers to not turn out to vote in November, as if that will somehow teach the White House a lesson. The “professional left” completely fell for the Republican’s tactic, swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The Republicans counted on the politically naive Hamsher, Huffington and others to not understand how Washington works, you can read it almost daily on their blogs – this sense that if the president really wanted to pass it, he would just do it. How fucking naive is that thinking, haven’t they ever watched C-Span for more than 5 minutes? I heard Arianna Huffington “GlennBecking” her book last night with full-throated populism and Tom Ashbrook asked how she proposes we change these things and her response was that we have to “insist” that they do it. A perfect example of her naiveté.

The fight over the health care bill is a perfect example of how the Republicans manipulated the process to get back in a position to “possibly” win back the House of Representatives in 2010. We all remember how popular the idea of passing health care reform was right after the election in 2008. This is where the pollsters started their role in helping the Republicans. They all asked very general questions like “Do you support reforming health care?” or something to that effect and of course that general question is going to get a yes answer from many different people, those who want universal health care to those who really don’t know what they want, but just know that what we have now isn’t working. So the pollsters set the high water mark on the popularity of health care reform in its generic form. This helps to set up false expectations of people, especially the media who are lazy motherfuckers and instead of doing some original reporting, they just get the latest PDF from Gallup and recycle the same clichés that they all spew forth. With these high expectations it becomes the media’s job to chip away at it. They love them some dramatic teases or scrolling text which screams “The President’s Support For Health Care Plummets” or some crap like that.

Of course the Republican lie machine kicked into gear and started scaring senior citizens with the “death panels”  and injected the terms “government run health care” into the lexicon, even though none of the proposals had government running anything except possibly a public option for buying insurance. But of course the Rebubs, with the help of the media AND the idiot firebaggers, began their campaigns to misinform the public by distorting the bills being floated. The right did it by making people believe that the government was going to decide what procedures would or wouldn’t be covered and the firebaggers did it by attacking the mandate, which by most accounts is necessary, if we are really going to bring costs down…think emergency room visits for uninsured. Of course, the firebaggers claimed it was going to be a big gain for insurance companies, which may or may not be true when you consider all the other provisions that put restrictions on them and stop them from kicking people off for pre-existing conditions, etc., I’m not so sure the insurance companies will benefit as much as the haters think.  It is probably true that the more people who have health insurance, the more the insurance industry stands to gain from it. So when you step back, the firebaggers would rather the health insurance industry not make money, even if it means poor people suffer. Where are the priorities here, supposed “left”? And really, having observed how things really work in Washington, the congress can revisit a lot of these issues in the future and as long as Democrats stay in control, much of that can be fixed. But here is the rub. The firebaggers who should be supporting the president and helping to fix the problems with the bill are actively trying to bring this president down. Do they really care about progressive issues or have their emotions (hate and jealousy) overcome their ability to reason and show compassion for their fellow citizens? Bastards.

If we look at the other big lie that Republicans have successfully perpetuated with the help of the media and again, the firebaggers, is the idea that the stimulus didn’t work…all based on one measure, the unemployment rate. I’ve posted about this before so I won’t rehash it…go look at it if you haven’t already. Almost immediately after President Obama was elected, before he was even sworn in, someone in the Obama gang made a prediction about the unemployment rate based on the numbers Bush and Co. were giving them. Remember how everyone was demanding that Obama come up with a solution to the economic mess and solve the looming “depression” that was surely around the corner…even before he was sworn in. So bowing to that intense pressure, a big mistake, the incoming administration made some rosy statements based on the information available. These predictions were modified very soon after the real numbers were discovered, after the Bush folks walked away laughing that they fell for it. But the Republicans, the media and the haters on the left (firebaggers) apparently didn’t like those new numbers so they just stayed with the Bush inspired ones, it served their purposes much better. So here we are 20 months later, no depression, the stock market back near the 10,000 mark, massive profits in the pockets of business and new private sector jobs being created for the last 8 months…not enough for sure, but a lot better than the legacy Bush left us and of course all that positive news is overshadowed by the unemployment rate. No one seems to grasp that it could very well be 18 – 20% had the stimulus not been passed. How many times have you heard someone in the media brush that off because damnit, there are still a lot of unemployed people. No shit Sherlock, and it does matter that it could be much worse….it does matter. Especially for all those people who still have their jobs and can pay their bills, it really fucking matters. Oh, but let’s ignore them because someone made a prediction back in December of 2008 that was wrong. Let’s just focus on that one number as the measure, fucking idiots.

But having said all that, it doesn’t mean that Democrats have to lose in November. With such a large percentage of the population not paying attention to politics at all until about 2 weeks out from an election, with the right tactics, we can minimize those loses and retain control of both houses of congress. I’m encouraged that David Plouffe is on our team and actively organizing and pushing for the GOTV efforts. I’m also glad to see the President out delivering the message that no one else seems to have the balls to do, including the firebaggers and the so-called “professional left” who in my opinion, hasn’t done shit for progressive causes since President Obama took office. They’ve been whining and bitching about the president not fulfilling some fantasy they created in their pea-sized brains or they are out to prove that we all should have voted for Hillary by joining with the right to damage this progressive president. Fucking sore losers……well, losers period.

So it is up to the rest of us to help the Democrats save our country from the catastrophe that will surely happen if John Boehner and Mitch McConnell get control. Go out and do your part to elect Democrats, start today. It isn’t that hard, talk to your liberal friends and make sure they are going to vote this year. If you have the time, volunteer for your local democrats and post comments on blogs encouraging people to get out and vote. We can win this thing if we all do our part.

Remembering Days of Old – Barry Sanders, The Greatest Running Back EVER!

Having been a Detroit Lions fan since I was born, we may not have been to the Super Bowl, but we had the greatest running back ever for 9 years. He was so fun to watch. I dare anyone who doesn’t think he’s the best to produce a link to a better highlight reel. :)

And introducing BARRY SANDERS JR.

A Lesson For All Of Us – Be Proactive When Dealing With Doctors

Guest Blogger Staci

My Mother and the Doctor Factory

This whole saga began about 16 months ago.  It started simple enough.  My mother felt like she was losing her peripheral vision in her right eye.  She described it as seeing a black spot that would move in and out of her field of vision.  Since that time, we’ve seen four eye doctors (two ophthalmologists), two internists, a neurologist, a rheumatologist and the doctor that looks at your intestines.

The first guy gave her drops to use, but said nothing was wrong.  He pretty much said it was all in her head.  He also threw in that she was 78 years old (at the time) and vision loss is normal as you age.  We dumped him and went to a second doctor that was recommended by a nurse friend.  This guy is the head of his department in the hospital where he works.  We wasted eight months with this guy before he suggested she see another doctor he was affiliated with because he couldn’t find a reason for the problem (which at this time was getting progressively worse).  Her “treatments”, as I could see were that he would dilate her pupils on each visit, and he prescribed a different eye drop from the first doctor.  The third doctor continued with the dilation of her pupils on each visit, which at this time was about once per month.  She would see doctor number two on one week and doctor number three on a successive week.  Each time, each doctor would dilate her pupils, but they could find no reason for the deteriorating vision.  Wouldn’t you think at this point they would have stopped dilating her pupils and proceeded on to other testing?  Finally, after 11 months of these treatments with no noticeable results, a MRI was ordered.  I’ll never forget.  It was Wednesday, April 28, 2010.  A tumor was found on her pituitary gland that was pressing on the optic nerve.  She was almost totally blind in her right eye at this point.  She was ordered into the hospital that day with surgery scheduled two days later.

It sounds like this story should end here, right?  The problem had been identified, and the solution should be clear.

There are two options for this type of surgery.  The surgeon can either go through your nose, or he can go through your skull from the back.  Considering my mother’s age, we opted for the first one.  The surgery was done on Friday and lasted over four hours.  Immediately after surgery, when they got her back to her room, she was in incredible pain in her left foot.  The neurosurgeon that had performed the surgery called in an internist.  He couldn’t figure it out, so he called in a rheumatologist.  The rheumatologist decided it was the effects of gout and prescribed Colchcine.  Now, my mother had never for a day in her life had gout and the pain didn’t present like gout, but that was his diagnosis. I really would have rather he said he didn’t know.  For the next two days, she was treated for gout but she was still screaming from the pain.  My mother is fairly stoic, so for her to be complaining was really telling for me.  She got no relief from the pain using this drug.  On the third day, Neurotin was prescribed.  This is a medication that was approved by the FDA as an anti-seizure drug, but it has a secondary use for nerve pain.  Finally, they had hit upon a drug that seemed to help.  The pain was manageable, but amazingly, the source was still being diagnosed as gout.  The gout medication didn’t work at all while in the hospital, but they still sent her home with a prescription for Colchcine .  Our first post-hospital visit was one week after discharge.  By that time, I had done tons of research into the symptoms my mother described to me, and it sounded a lot like neuropathy and nothing like gout.

continued after the fold, click “More”

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President Obama Says It Like It Is – I Hope Everyone Was Listening

That’s my president, damn it. I am, and always have been proud of voting for him and his answer to this question about the Park51 Community Center shows exactly why.

Fox News Wendell Goler asked about “the wisdom of building a mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero.”

“I think I’ve been pretty clear on my position here,” he said. “And that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights; one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.”

The president went on to explain, “We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts. And we’ve got to be clear about that. We’ve got to be clear about that because … if we’re going to successfully reduce the terrorist threat, then we need all the allies we can get. The folks who are most interested in a war between the United States or the West and Islam are al Qaeda. That’s what they’ve been banking on.

“And fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving, are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in: how do I make sure I can get a good job, how can I make sure that my kids get a decent education, how can I make sure I’m safe, how can I improve my lot in life. And so they have rejected this violent ideology for the most part, overwhelmingly.

“And so from a national security interest, we want to be clear about who the enemy is here. It’s a handful, a tiny minority of people who are engaging in horrific acts — and have killed Muslims more than anybody else.

“The other reason it’s important for us to remember that is because we’ve got millions of Muslim-Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They’re going to school with our kids. They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. They’re our coworkers. And, you know, when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?

“I’ve got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan, in the uniform of the United States armed services. They’re out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we’ve got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes: They are Americans. And we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don’t differentiate between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ It’s just ‘us.'”

No One To Blame But Themselves

Guest Blogger – Staci

If Democrats lose control of Congress, it’s their own damn fault. I’ve read the pundits that are predicting doom and gloom for the D’s.  I have heard all of the reasons that it is Obama’s fault and if he had just done this or that or the other, then all would be well.  Well, let me tell you who will be at fault if the Democrats lose – each and every single candidate that actually loses.  They spent the entire month of August “on vacation”.  Maybe that time would have been best spent for every Democrat to have as many flippin’ town halls as they could fit in a month’s time.  Hell, three a day all over their districts, and when they’ve covered the entire district, start over again because somebody didn’t hear you the first time.  The Democrats have passed some huge bills in the past 20 months and they should be out there shouting from the rooftops why they took those votes, not running away from them.  Healthcare, I would be beating my constituency over the head with what is available right now.  Credit card reform, hell, that law alone will probably affect at least one person in every household in the district.  The reforms to student loans, the extensions to unemployment, the fucking stimulus!  I am convinced if people really understood, and if each Democrat took it upon themselves to make sure their districts understood, the Democrats would have unprecedented numbers in both Houses.  My gosh, they are running against a party without a plan.

So Democrats, don’t blame Obama or the media or use historical references to justify losing your seat.  If you lose, you have only yourself to blame.