Memorial Day Reads

Flag-Flower-Vintage-Post-CardGood Morning Every One!

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend!

Bob Dole is an interesting man and definitely a war hero.  He was also a Republican who served at a point in time when Republicans were interested in solving problems–not creating them–and had a fairly consistent view of things.  Although I will never, for the life of me, understand how exactly a party that wants to be the party of small government seems to be so interested in what goes on in people’s beds and bodies.

I just remember him now being wheeled to the Senate to pass a really important piece of legislation that the party shot down because of some weird conspiracy theories.  They walked right by a man in a wheel chair that has given a lot to this country and ignored his pleas to recognize his right to have access to life.  He spoke out yesterday and the comments were doozies.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” if the Senate was broken, Dole responded that “it is bent pretty badly.”

“It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget, or legislation,” said Dole, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996. “We weren’t perfect by a long shot, but at least we got our work done.”

Dole came back to the Senate last December to support a United Nations treaty to bar discrimination against people with disabilities, which failed after a vast majority of Republicans declined to support it.

Dole said in his Fox News interview that he isn’t sure there would be a place for him and other big-time Republicans of his generation, like Presidents Reagan and Nixon, in the current GOP.

“Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it,” said Dole, who called himself a “mainstream conservative Republican.”

“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs, until New Year’s Day next year, and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole said about the current state of his party.

I thought the comment about Nixon was particularly interesting. He was a man of ideas.  Those ideas also included attracting the Southern Confederates into the party that now are the big problem.  That sure is a bold idea.  Attract a bunch of folks with a history of insurgencies. So, the sorry state of the nation has a lot to do with Nixon’s big ideas and Reagan’s big ideas and we basically have Obama throwing together Dolecare which was a big idea in its time too.  I think we need fewer big ideas and more solutions.

Because people are hurting.9158220-handpainted-vintage-postcard-for-memorial-day-1909-with-text

 The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2. It’s Even Worse 3 Years Later

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An  OECD report states that “inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve,” with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year  decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have  replaced formerly secure middle-income positions.

3. Over half of Americans are now IN poverty.

According to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 50% brings in about  $18,000 per year. That’s less than the  poverty line for a family of three ($19,000) or a family of four ($23,000).

4. 75% of Americans are NEAR poverty.

The average household in the bottom 75% earns about  $31,000 per year. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to  130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

Incredibly, Congress is trying to  cut food assistance. Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee referred to food stamps as “stealing.” He added a Biblical quote: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” A recent  jobs hearing in Washington was attended by  one Congressman.

5. Putting it in Perspective

Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just  20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire  2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.

card00411_frWe’re abusing all of our resources.  Here’s research that shows how quickly we’re draining our aquifers.  They are a key source of fresh water.

Since 1900, the U.S. has pulled enough water from underground aquifers to fill two Lake Eries. And in just the first decade of the 21st century, we’ve extracted underground water sufficient to raise global sea level by more than 2 percent. We suck up 25 cubic kilometers of buried water per year.

That’s the message from the U.S. Geological Survey’s evaluation of how the U.S. is managing its aquifers. Or mismanaging. For example: water levels in the aquifer that underlies the nation’s bread basket have dropped in some places by as much as 160 feet.

So, I have an update on the newly found grave of England’s King Richard III.

Researchers from the University of Leicester have revealed in the journal Antiquity that the remains of King Richard III had been buried in an untidy grave, “without any pomp or solemn funeral,” as the medieval historian Polydore Vergil had written. There were no signs of a coffin or a shroud, and the lozenge-shaped grave was too short for his body, which had been placed on one side of the hole. Additional evidence suggests that the defeated king’s hands may have been tied. Other medieval graves in the town had been carefully dug to the correct length and with vertical sides.

So, the world is atwitter with a possible sunrise in Japan.  There’s even a name for it “Abenomics”.  I will try to tackle the whole thing some time this week but I thought I’d mention that Japanese women will still be left out no matter what the outcome.

The World Economic Forum ranks Japan a dismal 101st in gender equality out 135 countries — behind Azerbaijan, Indonesia and China. Not a single Nikkei 225 company is run by a woman. Female participation in politics is negligible, and the male-female wage gap is double the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

One number explains why Japan must pull women into the job market and help them achieve leadership roles: 15 percent. That’s how much of a boost that gross domestic product would receive if female employment matched men’s (about 80 percent), says Kathy Matsui, the chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“Japan is lagging because it’s running a marathon with one leg,” says Matsui, who has been churning out “Womenomics” reports regularly since 1999. “It must start tapping its most underutilized resource.”

Abe is acting from fiscal necessity, not from a sense of social justice. Japan’s workforce is shrinking as the population ages and the birthrate declines. That might be manageable if not for a public debt more than twice the size of the $5.9 trillion economy. Politically, increasing the number of women workers is an easier sell than opening up Japan to immigrant labor.

The deal is that some of the Abenomics suggestions to correct some of these issues for women are strikingly patriarchal.

The government is considering circulating “Women’s Notebooks” to warn of the evils of postponing marriage and motherhood. Yes, career-oriented women are selfish. When Abe calls on companies to provide three years of maternity leave, he uses a Japanese expression that a child should be held by its mother until the age of 3. In other words, kids are women’s work. (In fact, knowing that a three-year absence could derail their careers, many women are likely to further delay childbirth.)

Abe’s government should begin by actually enforcing the 1986 Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Japan should promote diversity and offer tax incentives to companies that do, as well. More-flexible work hours would draw women into the workforce. So would offering subsidized or free day care so more families can afford it.

At least Japan is trying to have a discussion.  All we get here are cuts to early child education and care and less access to reproductive health care and family planning.

Pussy Riot band member Maria Alyokhina ha announced a prison hunger strike

A parole hearing in the Russian town of Berezniki has been adjourned until May 23 after a jailed member of the all-female opposition group Pussy Riot refused to continue taking part via video-link.

At the hearing on May 22, the court rejected Maria Alyokhina’s requests to be physically present and to have the judge and the prosecutor replaced.

Alyokhina, who spoke to the Berezniki court from her prison in the Perm region, announced that she was starting a hunger strike.

Her lawyer, Irina Khrunova, told journalists that there were many procedural violations in the parole hearing.

“Masha [Alyokhina] and I agreed [before the parole hearing] that if the court did not allow her to be brought to the courtroom, then she would refuse to participate in the hearings,” she said.

Khrunova indicated that Alyokhina would also not participate in the hearing on May 23.

“She very much wanted to appear in court; she wanted to tell the court about her situation and why she thought she deserved to be released on parole, but since the court refused to hear her personally, she thought she didn’t need to continue [participation],” he said.

Alyokhina and another Pussy Riot member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are serving two-year prison sentences after being convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova, and a third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested in February 2012 after staging a performance critical of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Samutsevich also received a two-year prison sentence but was later released on probation.

Tolokonnikova’s parole request was denied last month by a court in the Russian republic of Mordovia, where she is serving her prison sentence.

Hard to get justice anywhere in the world these days.

No Justice No Peace.

What’s on you reading and blogging list this holiday?


24 Comments on “Memorial Day Reads”

  1. Beata says:

    Nobody wants to hear about poverty in America. Having a bad case of crabs is more socially acceptable and has less shame is attached to it than being poor. A few years ago, I told a lawyer friend that I shop at the Salvation Army. He was shocked. He said, “I thought the Salvation Army was for poor people.” I told him, “I am a poor person”. I might as well have released a silent but deadly fart as my “friend” recoiled from my presence. Alas, our relationship has never been the same since my embarassing emission of poverty. Being disabled is also declasse in his eyes, as he finds disabled people “unrewarding”. Clearly, I am not his equal in so many respects. Shame on me and others like me.

    I remember when my upper-middle-class grandparents used to visit us around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandmother would criticize my mother because I was still wearing flip-flops ( the cheap dime-store kind ) or my brother’s winter coat had sleeves half-way up his arms and didn’t button. My mother ( who worked full-time ) would say she was sorry but she didn’t have enough money right now to buy her growing children new shoes or coats. She was paying for our coats and shoes on lay-away but it took time. My grandmother would shame her by saying, “Don’t poor-mouth!” Sometimes my grandfather would slip a twenty-dollar bill into my mother’s hand as they were leaving and whisper, “Don’t tell your mother about this.” Then they would get into their Cadillac and drive back to their 16-room Georgian Revival house with the prize-winning rose garden. My grandmother deserved this comfortable life because she worked very hard every day, having bridge club meetings and tea parties and telling the housekeeper the proper way to wash the dishes and iron the sheets. Finding a good gardener who could be trusted with the roses was also time-consuming for her.

    I don’t think life for the poor has gotten any better since I was a child. The poor are still blamed for causing their own situation. They are lazy good-for-nothings who need to STFU, get a job ( even if they are employed ), grow their own food, and stop eating canned goods. I see this attitude on some “Hillary blogs” as well as right-wing ones.

    So there is my Monday morning rant. Forgive me for “poor-mouthing”. I imagine I will regret having written this but so be it.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Beata, you have nothing to apologize for or to be ashamed of. I try not to be a prejudiced person, but I admit to being prejudiced against wealthy people. It seems to me that most wealthy people either inherited their money or have “earned” it by stealing and or cheating to get it. I don’t see anything admirable in wealth or anything to envy. Instead, I admire those who are compassionate in their everyday lives. Having worked in the non-profit industry for nearly 20 years, as well as volunteering for non-profits for many years, I’ve found that those people who contribute most often are middle-class or below. When the wealthy contribute it most often is to memorialize themselves with a name on a new building or wing for a hospital or university – not something to help others improve their lot in life.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Beata,

      I really appreciated your rant. I refused to be ashamed of being poor. I’d rather starve to death than act like some of the rich people in our corrupted culture–people like Jamie Dimon, Mitt and Ann Romney, Donald Trump, and all the rest. They are nothing but drags on society.

      I still believe that honesty is the best policy and the best things in life are free. Silly me.

    • No apologies.
      My life’s theme song…c/o Phil Ochs and Joan Baez..,

    • RalphB says:

      Beata,

      Righteous rant! I grew up poor but happy. There’s no shame to be had.

    • dakinikat says:

      You are so right! Thank you for writing this!

    • NW Luna says:

      Rant on!

      The other day an acquaintance commented, on seeing our small bathroom, that it was hard for a couple to get ready for the morning in a bathroom that had only one sink. I managed not to FOFL.

      I’ve noticed lately that shopping at thrift shops, aka second-hand stores, has gotten more acceptable because it’s “green.” Not because it costs less.

    • HT says:

      Beata – righteous rant and oh so right on. I’m neither rich nor poor. Lower middle class I suspect. I grew up wearing hand me downs, which was rather embarrassing as I was several inches taller than my sisters. Now I always check out thrift shops – I haven’t bought a stitch of clothing retail in years. When you are on a pension you stretch every dollar as much as you can, so you are not alone – you’ve got plenty of company.

    • Fannie says:

      Beata your posting tells it like it is, and I dare anybody to make you feel like you should regret what you’ve written. You have conveyed your life experiences, and your heart is a very kind one. Thank you for sharing where you came from, and who you are. It gives us great comfort to have a sister like you among us, and we don’t blame you or your disability. Your kindness seeps through your words, and your actions, and your good sense of humor too. You have provided much to us, and thank you for being a great skydancer.

      I myself come from a long line of washer women, and biscuit makers, and know what the generations of poverty have done for my ancestors. I too, have been crushed in those mean streets of poverty, and I am sadden knowing that all that freedom really means is there is no way out, that we are broke, busted, and that the safety nets aren’t there for the new or old poor of this country. I think of Romney, when he got on stage and said that his children deserved better, his country deserves better, and that we needed to tighten up on the free loaders, and druggies, and on, and on. He doesn’t have a clue about the two different faces of poverty, not a clue. I don’t know if we will rebound, I don’t know if we will ever really become a healthy country, but I do know that Bush crippled our nation, and we are swelling with poverty, and no jobs in site.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    From DailyKos: The truck that caused the bridge collapse was from the Canada and related to tar sands drilling/Keystone XL pipeline.

    Mullen Trucking, the Calgary based operator of the truck that hit the span is involved in hauling large and heavy drilling from the Port of Vancouver, WA, to the Alberta Tar Sands field. The equipment is placed in a large box for the trip north and east from Vancouver, WA. After unloading the trucks return to Vancouver with the empty housing boxes to be loaded again. The truck that hit the bridge was carrying one of those large housing boxes back to Vancouver for another load of drilling equipment.

    Initially, these trucks were routed East across Oregon, Northern Idaho and into Montana before heading north into Alberta. Because of organized protests in Missoula, Mullen started diverting some of their drilling cargo north on I-5 through Seattle to take some of the pressure off Montana, however, they continue to use the Montana route as well.

  3. Boo Radly says:

    Beata – much appreciated righteous rant!

  4. Boo Radly says:

    Dak – another wonderful post! I never tell you all how much appreciate all of you here.

  5. NW Luna says:

    For us history buffs, with an (all too-short) video:

    Stephens is a hairstyle archaeologist who specialises in recreating how women in ancient Rome and Greece wore their hair.

    She spoke to the BBC about a museum visit that marked the start of a long journey of discovery on which she solved a historical mystery and had her work published in an academic journal.

    • dakinikat says:

      very interesting

    • bostonboomer says:

      Fascinating!! This is why we need more women in science. It wasn’t until women got into developmental psychology that we learned how smart babies are. Women have different experiences and viewpoints than men.

  6. RalphB says:

    Daily Howler: WHO IS SHARYL ATTKISSON: Crazy!

    Part 1—Successor to Cline and Perot: Crazily, Sharyl Attkisson is a major correspondent for CBS News.

    What makes Attkisson’s position at CBS News so crazy? Consider what happened on Sunday, May 12, when she sat for a 42-minute appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal.

    This is a great post by Bob Somerby. Attkisson should be fired for making Jon Carl look good in comparison!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Wow. Funny, but I recall at the time that that anti-Islamic video was very prominent in the news for a couple of days. Am I imagining that memory?