Saturday, April 23, 2005

not feeling well

I've been feeling really tired and lethargic ever since I had some lemonade earlier today. That's ok though, it looks like my cat wants to blog

*************

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Tomorrow is justice Sunday, or should I say IN-justice Sunday! Those chowder-head Republicans are getting together with James Dobson. You might know him from his "focus on the family" TV bits, I know him for being total jerk. He will have cat-killer Bill Frist with him to protest so-called judicial activists. Apparently, they think no one is looking out for people of faith.

This of course, is nothing more that shameless propaganda. The powers that be are so insistent on the Bush Doctrine, that they cannot tolerate any dissent of any kind. We must fall in line, 100% of the time, or face the consequences. I don't think so.

Make no mistake of what the filibuster fight is all about. This is naked power grab by the most extreme, conservative, neandethal and fundamentalist side of the Republican party. It will rightly go down in a ball of flames. They are not satisfied unless they can act completely against the best interests of our Country. You should hear some of the language they've been using.

"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," Tom DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters."

I want all of you to tell your loved ones how bad these people are for our country. We cats cannot vote to protect ourselves. Please do the right thing and make sure people like Bill Frist, Tom Delay, James Dobson, George W. Bush, etc. can no longer hurt us this way. They have lost the right to be called Christian Conservatives.

From now, on they will be known as the American Taliban. That is our frame. Get out there and spread it.
-Camus

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

We can do better

Instead of consuming questionable brownies, today the class of ‘99 remembers Columbine. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about; I still remember watching the TV: the kids my own age crawling out of windows, crying, not-believing.

I don’t know if we have done anything positive since that day. At the time (I was only 17 then) it struck me how unlike our parents we are. We were raised by a generation that had such difficulty being around that they invented the idea of “quality time.” The class of ’99 is not of particularly great stock either. On the cusp, we combine the cynicism of gen X-ers with the shallow materialism of gen Y-ers. We are trying to be better.

I’ll always think of Columbine in terms of the generational and communicational gap between parents and their kids. It seems though, in our hyper-speed-media-saturated-emotionally isolating culture, that the stakes are much higher than they used to be. This last election saw parents vote in favor of a war their now grown children want no part of. I don’t know if we can fix this, but I hope we can find a way to communicate with each other.

I don’t want to sound like I am blaming the parents or Baby Boomers for what happened 6 years ago. That has been done already. I hope maybe you can see Columbine the way I see it, and how dangerous it can get when we don’t know what our loved ones are thinking.
-Synthesis

Monday, April 18, 2005

What's Next

I’m still glowing about our small victory, and the battle of Social Security Privatization is still not over, yet I feel like now would be a good time to consider what is next for us. Sue B. made a very good point last Thursday about raising the Minimum Wage. I believe it could be a natural outcome of the solvency issue. Not only has the minimum wage stagnated for roughly 8 years; it was not high enough in 1997 to begin with. It is time to talk about raising it again. We can win with it.

For all the talk of how Florida moved “red,” a minimum wage ballot initiative passed with around 70% support. In political terms, that is a dominating win. There is no reason to think most Texans are adverse to fairer wages.

The Republicans and their corporate wallets will bluster. They’ll complain that it will drive down employment—that we cannot afford this now. They’ll complain about inflation. They cry wolf every time; it seems like it is never the right time to raise the minimum wage. Bill Clinton raised the minimum wage twice, created 23 million new jobs, and generated so much revenue that he actually fixed the damage done from Reagan/Bush 41 with a little left over to shore up Social Security. Bush 43 has never raised the minimum wage, actually managed to lose jobs, created an annual debt that exceeds $400 billion, and still was able to weaken the dollar to its lowest point in several years. The choice will be obvious to most Americans.

While in theory I support removing the S.S. salary cap (currently exempting all wages in excess of $90,000), we will likely have to settle for a small raise, probably not enough to fix the so-called funding gap. As Americans become increasingly untrusting of Republican’s handling of Social Security, they will turn to us for answers. Instead of limiting ourselves inside the parameters of the system’s budget, we can be much more innovative.

While the Right seems generally accepting that they vote on God, guns, and gays, we progressive Democrats are holistic thinkers. We understand that fixing our problems cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. We cannot let ourselves think for a second that a solvent Social Security and the Bush agenda can co-exist for long. It is not right that someone can work 40 hours a week, every week of the year, and still not be able to raise themselves out of poverty.

Our current debate over Social Security is part of a much larger debate over the soul of our great country. Will we be a nation of islands, individuals concerned only with ourselves? Or, are we are brother’s keepers? As a progressive Democrat, I believe our saying, “We all do better when we all do better.”
-Synthesis

Friday, April 15, 2005

Lubbock DFA meets with Randy Neugebauer

...or rather, we met with his deputy chief of staff--Randy was in Washington. Overall, I think the meeting was successful for multiple reasons.

1. We were able to stay on message.
Big props on this one all around. Our host tried to put the onus of the problem on our group with a straw man. Our purpose is not to do Congress' job for them. Though they tried to switch it on us and make the meeting about OUR plan for SAVING Social Security, we stayed firm to presenting our case AGAINST privatization. I still believe that our plan IS Social Security, that we shouldn't think it needs to be SAVED. We definitely could do something to fix the system, but the same could be said about Medicare, Medicaid, the Military, Homeland Security, and probably every other government program we have. Whether he likes what we said or not, Randy will have to know that his own constituents believe privatization does nothing to save Social Security, in fact, it will likely do HARM to it.

2. We were able to keep the meeting cordial.
Really happy here. We passionately disagree with a lot of what comes from the Republicans these days, but the people we met with were genuinely nice. Meeting directly with our representatives is something we want to do many more times, and this group is more than up to being opposed and civil at the same time.

3. We dominated the meeting
I was nervous beforehand that we might get bullied around the room. Not the case. Of the 35 or so minutes we spent together, Lubbock DFA spoke for about 31 of those minutes. They sat, and they listened to what we had to say. Confidence boosts are always nice.

4. We were pretty good with counter-punching
This may be do the (well planned) practice session we had the night before, but we were offering up cohesive arguments against privatization--both emotional and rational. Perhaps they didn't just have much to work with, but the general argument seemed to be roughly:
Something has to be done to fix Social Security --> Privatization is something

....right.

On another note, the Chilean Privatization Plan was brought up by the other side as a model plan. I hadn't heard much about it so I did some digging. When I looked, I pulled up a propaganda piece by the Cato Institute. Those Cato guys have been pretty vocal about their support for Bush's privatization plan, so I wasn't too surprised to see them touting the Chilean example. I did some more digging and found an article by the New York Times

It turns out the model the Republicans want so much to compare with was forcibly (mandatory) put in place under the regime of noted economist and full-time fascist Augusto Pinochet. Yeah! Sign me u… wait a minute. Was it really Pinochet?
But now that the first generation of workers to depend on the new system is beginning to retire, Chileans are finding that it is falling far short of what was originally advertised under the authoritarian government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
But wait! It gets worse:
For all the program's success in economic terms, the government continues to direct billions of dollars to a safety net for those whose contributions were not large enough to ensure even a minimum pension approaching $140 a month. Many others - because they earned much of their income in the underground economy, are self-employed, or work only seasonally - remain outside the system altogether. Combined, those groups constitute roughly half the Chilean labor force. Only half of workers are captured by the system…

"What we have is a system that is good for Chile but bad for most Chileans," said a government official who specializes in pension issues and who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation from corporate interests. "If people really had freedom of choice, 90 percent of them would opt to go back to the old system."
Wow, does that sound like a Social Security system that you would want? I prefer our current model that is good for America AND Americans. Thank to the Times, I also found out who the architect for the Chilean system is. You’ll never guess where he works now.

The main architect of the Chilean system is José Piñera, who was labor and social security minister from 1978 to 1980 during the Pinochet dictatorship. Mr. Piñera is now chairman of the International Center for Pension Reform, co-chairman of the Cato Institute's Project on Social Security Choice, and he has been a board member of several Chilean corporations. (emphasis added by
author to imply that Mr. Piñera is a no-good crook)
I am always amazed how these social criminals can disappear for a decade or two, only to reemerge with money and power. We need to put a stop to this crap.

I am also amazed by how Republicans attempt to bolster their arguments with evidence that is unsubstantial and even HARMFUL to their cause. It is not like Computer with internet access is a particularly hard to access and utilize. I have two of the darn things in my home, and I’m not even rich. Not to mention the 8 jillion (not an exact count) machines that are publicly accessible. The Republicans are out of touch BIG TIME.
-Synthesis





Saturday, April 09, 2005

1st

...and lubbockDFA launches!