Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dear Congress

On the eve of our country's possible financial ruin, the American people would like to answer a few of your questions about why your approval rating is lower than a snake's belly.

1. We want government to work. When we voted the Democrats out of office, it was not because we don't like the party line, it was because even with a majority, the Democrats failed to do what we asked of it: accomplish change. Healthcare reform did not reform healthcare. Cost containment that many viewed as the most central part of the problem, was not even part of the package. Nor, was any kind of tort reform. Banking reform did not reform banking. Despite turning a blind eye to unconscionable lending practices for years, granting mortgages to totally unqualified individuals, banks bought enough influence through you, to retain their "too big to fail status". Taxpayers bailed them out. No one was sanctioned and no one went to jail. Now, big banks still control all the money for small business loans and home mortgages with little oversight.
Republicans need not be surprised when you get voted out in the next round. We face an unprecedented crisis generated solely to suit the agenda of the Tea Party. Ronald Reagan would not be in this situation and history tells us, he did the right thing for the country. The current debt ceiling cannot and should not be extended under a situation in which one class bears the entire burden of cleaning up our collective misdeeds. The elderly and infirm did not cause this financial problem. A fair solution is needed and the Republicans are clearly not dealing in good faith. A compromise means both parties must leave their absolutes at home. The center has collapsed in this country and the only people making noise, are shouting about their "brand". "You can't touch Social Security". "You can't raise taxes." Can't or Won't is a question that needs to be asked far and wide.

2. We can't bribe our way out of this problem. Everyone talks about saving the middle class but no one does anything about it. Cash-rich banks don't lend. Small businesses can't get loans. Cash-rich insurance companies won't cover you. Cancer patients are quietly culled from the rolls to meet investor returns. Cash-rich monopoly utilities won't let renewable energy have a foothold. Solar, wind and biofuels, the kind that don't explode or cause massive environmental harm, languish by the wayside while we are surpassed by China, Japan and Germany. It's clear that the policies you put forth are being dictated by corporate giants with no personal culpability. So much money flows into Washington from sources outside of your congressional districts, that it dwarfs your own constituents' voices. A quick look at any of your contributors lists reveals where your loyalties are. Quid pro quo should be the new Congressional motto.

3. You CAN touch social security and you CAN raise taxes. No business can operate without adequate income or manageable expenses. We need both. Do you Republicans think that we don't see how hard you are trying to protect Exxon, Shell and Wall Street hedge-fund managers only to throw Mama from the train? Severe government cuts mean layoffs. Layoffs mean the unemployment rate goes up. We voted for you to create jobs not take them away. Guess what's going to happen in the next election? And Democrats, do you really think we believe that there is enough money to keep paying every single person with a government hand out? Or, that we are not worried about our national debt? Social Security has become a joke. You can even collect from your long divorced, dead-husband's account. We should have fixed this sacred cow long ago so that it can be sustainable. We are not so lazy that we can't work a few extra years too.

4. We can sacrifice if you ask us. After 9/11 George Bush told us all to go shopping. One of the saddest failures of leadership in American history. He didn't ask us to join the draft or kick in a little more for a 3 trillion dollar war. He just put it on the tab for someone else to pay. Did anyone in America not think the bill would come due eventually? In World War II, everyone pitched in. In 10 years, no one has ever asked us to contribute a dime or a hand to the war effort.
Today, we still are not being asked to sacrifice. We can and we will. But you can't expect us to respond if you only ask the middle class. World War II veterans are proud of their sacrifice and contribution to our nation's war effort. Following that war, we experienced on the of the longest periods of sustained prosperity and growth. What will happen when our military comes home from Iraq and Afghanistan?

5. We don't care who gets to be President in 2012. If an idea is good, it should be acted on. The fact that good ideas get shot down because it might help the other side is deplorable. America was founded on bright ideas, ingenuity and effort. Now we all want someone else to do the work. When President Kennedy started the moon shot initiative, the whole country got behind him, not just the Democrats.

6. Invest in us. Invest in small business. Invest in our infrastructure. Invest in our energy independence. If jobs are the issue, why are you still propping up the industries that limit free market competition? Small business drives our economy, yet big banks won't lend. Our infrastructure is crumbling yet construction workers, the kind that could repair roads, bridges and tunnels, sit idle and collect unemployment. We shuttered NASA, putting hundreds of scientists out of work but haven't replaced it with a National Renewable Energy Program.

7. Stop the filibuster. Congress was intended to work with a simple majority vote. The filibuster tactic is the single most evil gimmick ever devised to slow or stop government progress. It requires a super-majority to pass a law. Years ago congressmen had to stand before their chamber and speak continuously to maintain a filibuster. Now a box has to be checked and the person filibustering can remain anonymous. Government stonewalling at it's finest.

8. Fix redistricting. Every ten years after the census, district lines are redrawn. These lines bear no resemblance to natural, geographic boundaries,and deliver ideological voting patterns that divide us by race, income and religion. Entire districts have been drawn around a candidate's house simply to prevent him from running.

9. Make a real pledge. Instead of promising an extreme position on taxes or social security, let's have you tell us you won't take campaign money from outside your state. Most of you don't publish your email addresses or allow email communications from people who live out of state. This, you say, is to prevent outsiders from having a voice in your state. If we can't communicate with you, if we live out of state, then you have no business accepting contributions from others who live out of state in a pay to play scenario.

10. Apologize to the American people for your lack of vision and your refusal to compromise. If the economy goes over a cliff, you will all be called to account.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Georgia Independents, Go Away!

What Mary Norwood did, virtually single-handed should serve as a wake-up call to all Georgians to join Common Cause. Collecting more than 10,000 signatures by hand (not email) is a feat most of us would never attempt even our dreams.
Georgia law requires that for an independent to gain access to the ballot, they must have 10,000 verifiable Georgia residents. Without them, we are left with only a Republican or a Democrat to choose from.
After this super-human effort, the state elections board decided to turn DOWN her application because she filed at 4:00pm instead of 12noon. Never mind that her campaign manager just was diagnosed with breast cancer. The state elections board does not consider life-threatening illness a valid reason for missing a deadline.
Common Cause has been fighting for fair ballot access for years without success, and this incredible miscarriage of justice, proves just how bad it really is.
If you want bad government, come to Georgia. If you want extreme candidates on the right or left, come to Georgia. If you want closed-door meetings and wild-west ethics by legislators, Georgia is your home state, baby.
Ms. Norwood would be well-served to take her thoughtful, intelligent positions and move out, because you don't count for s**t here if you aren't a R or D. Sad.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Win a Date with Keith Olbermann

Having sufficiently digested the morning news, along with my avocado, sundried tomatoes and cheddar omelet, my mind turns to more whimsical thoughts....such as: How can I get Keith Olbermann to notice me?

Woe is me to live here in Atlanta, surrounded by the reddest of red, windbag politicians, who endlessly profess ethics reform and family values, while drunkenly driving their government-provided Crown Vics into trees with their pockets stuffed with twenties. Not only do I pine for someone who lives a thousand miles away in New York City, but to add to my salmon-like aspirations, I serve on the board of Common Cause Georgia and manage the programs of the state's Solar Energy Association.

But, I take heart. I am a five year cancer survivor and our breed is the toughest. We thrive on challenges and our motto is "If I wake up on the green side of the grass, I know it's going to be a good day".

Back to Keith. There is a strong likelihood that Mr. Olbermann is otherwise engaged and therefore unavailable to you or me as potential dates. As it appears, he was, or is currently involved with a reporter from WPIX TV. Credit the media, from which he springs, for that little ambiguity. If he were up for a little friendly competition, (and I have to believe that he must have some sense of humor, having allowed himself to be named sexiest man alive by Playgirl magazine a few years ago--Really) I would suggest that in order to be considered a serious contender, one must make a compelling case for earning his attention for 4 or 5 hours some potentially enchanted evening.

What we know about him is that he was born in NYC (ditto), is somewhat clumsy (that train left a mark--Bad train!), loves baseball (strike one), does not eat bread or pasta (I highly recommend "Joy" gluten-free noodles), is a prolific writer, is prone to occasional bouts of over-zealousness when discussing topics he is passionate about, is a voracious reader, a super-smart, smart ass and a superb champion of the left (those with a brain). What else there is to know, we can only hope to find out.

For a guy who just recently passed the five-oh, he's got a lot going on, and I'm guessing not just me would like to share a nosh with the Uber-mann.

So here's the game; Write an essay (500 words or less) on why you would like to Win a Date with Keith Olbermann. Do NOT include references to body parts or describe yourself in a way that would make your mother blush or send your father out the door with a shotgun. Send a head shot. Email WinADateTKO at gmail dot com and we'll see if we can crack the code.

Maybe he'll pick two winners and I'll get to come along too. Maybe he'll never see any of our responses..... Nah. This will be too much fun. I'm betting Mr. Olbermann is a gambler with a keen sense of adventure.

Hope springs eternal, and I'm still on the green side of the grass.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oil on the beach: WWSAD?

I am pissed at Obama. It would be fair to say that even though I think of Sean Hannity and that crazy Glen Beccch as anarchists and that all advertisers to their propaganda network should be boycotted, I am not one who turns easily on the guy I brung to the party.

Now, however, as I watch the crisis in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico unfold, I have to wonder, President Obama, how can you be so clueless? We know you can give inspiring speeches. That's why you're in office. But beyond that, you are there because the catastrophically inept Bush administration put you there and now America is tired of the era of Good Job Brownie.

Now once again we find ourselves, watching in horror at Louisiana and it's neighbors suffer unconscionable loss. This disaster you could have seen coming. Dick Cheney and his oligarchs set that plan in motion 8 years ago.

Here's what you need to do now: Think WWSAD? What Would Sheriff Andy Do?
1. Deputize people to clean it up. Billy Nungesser would be a good start.
2. Shut it down the fastest way possible.

Put the townspeople in charge. Get every marine biologist at every University down to the Gulf and put 'em in charge of evaluating clean up methods and getting them on the water. BP is taking too long and they don't know what they are doing. We are done testing.

Cajuns are just like Macgyver and that's what's needed here. For cripe's sake they are using shop vacs to clean up oil. Do you get the desperation here? American's respond to what they see not to what you say. You tell people five million feet of boom and then CNN shows a tangled mess of soggy boom laying in the marshes, already ruined.

We need every available skimmer in the world and we needed it 5 weeks ago. Where are you? This does remind me of Katrina. All the helicopters in the largest army in the world and the government could not even get water to the people in the Superdome.

Why do we have 14 government agencies in charge of telling us who can clean up the United States of America? How can you profess change and then proffer this bureaucracy?

Why are the BP communications and PR people, who are trying to block the free press not in jail for threatening our homeland? Our Water, Our dolphins, Our turtles, Our shrimp, Our wetlands, Our beaches. Who is going to write a check to them?

The time for talk is over. Nuke the well. Get every man woman and child a gas mask and hazmat suit (that wants one) and give them a tank and a shovel.

Build berms, Bring in Kevin Costner and for God's sake...

Do it now.