Sunday, November 25, 2012

So What The Heck Is That 'Fiscal Cliff' Thing All About, Anyway?

If you’re following the media story, you might believe the GOP’s claims that the world’s about to end. But it’s all a bunch of political posturing so that they can get what their 1% donors want out of the deal.
That’s why we have to spread the truth, so our friends and family don’t fall for their shenanigans. We’ve put together a 5-point guide on what this fiscal showdown is really all about. Check it out and then share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!
5-Point Guide To The Fiscal Showdown

1. The “Fiscal Cliff” Is A Myth. As Paul Krugman put it, “The looming prospect of spending cuts and tax increases isn’t a fiscal crisis. It is, instead, a political crisis brought on by the G.O.P.’s attempt to take the economy hostage.” Republicans are manufacturing this crisis to pressure Democrats to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and accept painful cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
2. The Bush Tax Cuts Finally End December 31. If Congress does nothing, the ax will fall on all the Bush tax cuts on New Year’s Eve. Then, on January 1, the public pressure on John Boehner and House Republicans to extend the middle-class tax cuts (already passed by the Senate and waiting to be signed by President Obama) will become irresistible. So the middle-class tax cut will eventually get renewed, and we’ll have $823 billion more revenue from the top 2% to do great things with.
3. The Sequester. The sequester is another political creation, forced on Democrats by Republicans in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling last year to avoid crashing our economy. It’s a set of cuts (50% to a bloated military budget and 50% to important domestic programs) designed to make both Republicans and Democrats hate it so much that they’d never let it happen. And the cuts can be reversed weeks or months into 2013 without causing damage.
4. The Big Three. Nothing happens to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits on January 1—unless Republicans force painful cuts to beneficiaries in exchange for tax increases on the wealthy, which are going to happen anyway if Congress does NOTHING. So, there’s literally no reason benefits cuts should be part of the discussion right now.
5. We Should Be Talking About Jobs. The real crisis Americans want Congress to fix is getting people back to work. And with just a fraction of that $823 billion from the wealthiest 2%, we could create jobs for more than 20,000 veterans and pay for the 300,000 teachers and 52,000 first responders, which our communities so desperately need. That’s not to mention jobs from investing in clean energy and our national infrastructure.

Please share this with your friends and family—and talk about it at the dinner table next week. The first step to winning this showdown is making sure we’re all armed with the facts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012



In Sandy’s Wake, New York’s Landscape of Inequity Revealed
Michelle Chen, In These Times
The shock of Sandy is still rippling across the northeastern United States. But in the microcosm of New York City, we can already see who’s going to bear the brunt of the damage. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, floodwaters have a way of exposing the race and class divisions that stratify our cities.

What Climate-Driven Hurricane Sandy Teaches about Cooperation
Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine has a helpful map that shows who won various races by what percent by state:

For those wondering how it is that Obama lost the popular vote, Mark Weisbrot has a good article in The Guardian 

For those wondering where we go next, the Union of Concerned Scientists has the right take 

By Russell Branca, New York, 10/30/2012

There are three fundamental reasons why I intend to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party for president of the United States.

1]  The time is long past overdue for the progressive voice in this country to be unified.  It must have a clear, distinct voice expressed in a political party from which its ideas can be put on the table for the nation to consider.  How those issues are framed for public consideration is key to success. Progressive ideas are not losing because they lose out in the market place of ideas; they lose because they are being blocked from competing. The leadership of the Democratic Party is part of that blockade and they will never change. 

2] The fundamental dividing line in American (and global) politics is the ideological conflict between private corporate power and the public interest. This “battle” is long range.  Winning cannot be achieved in one election cycle but requires long range planning over at least one or two decades. The Right has been slowly and relentlessly waging an ideological war for decades and now, after many losses, it is reaping the benefits of acting out of a long range strategy.

3]  The Green party is the progressive party that has the largest national infrastructure already in place. At this stage I could care less about the differences between Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson and Gary Johnson or Roseanne Barr or any of the other “Third Party” candidates. Those details just don’t matter at this point.

The goal is simple. If Jill Stein can get  10% of the national vote it will be a stunning shock to the system and it will be impossible for the national media to shut the progressive voice out of the national dialogue. The political environment from which ideas are born would be shifted albeit slightly, to the Left. Even if the Greens get 10 million votes that would be sufficient to do the same thing. A 5% share of the national vote would still be impressive and make a difference.

On all of the issues that really matter, we have those votes.

Questions for Third Party voters:

- What makes running the risk of a Romney victory worth voting for Jill Stein? –

This speaks to the classic  “lesser of two evils” argument. If the Green Party can get 10% of the national vote, that would make a Romney win worth it because Progressives would finally have a tool to fight back with. When an election is over it’s not just who won and who lost that matters. The particular political environment that is created also matters, and in the long range strategy it may be more important.

A main part of the Democratic Party’s strategy is to scare people about the consequences of a Romney win. He’ll end social security and medicare or he’ll make abortion illegal, or he’ll launch a war against Iran etc..  Well he can’t do any of those things if there is an opposition party that puts up a fight.  The reason why the Bush administration got away with as much as it did is because the Democratic Party put up very little resistance.  In 2004 John Kerry was one of the most anemic presidential candidates in memory. The Democrats did not even have the courage to make Iraq’s lack of weapons of mass destruction or links to Al Qaeda an issue. Kerry ran on how Bush had poorly managed the war and allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora. 

When Saddam Hussein was captured Americans felt triumphant. Plugging into that triumphalism, Hillary Clinton reminded everyone how she had voted for the war. When the war was starting to turn into a disaster she reminded people that she had always placed conditions on her support that Bush first get UN approval. Of course she remained silent when he went ahead anyway without it. When Obama was criticized during the 2008 campaign for his off the record comments that during a crisis Americans “cling to their guns and the Bible”, one would have thought that it was Rush Limbaugh or Andrew Breitbart that broke the story. No, it was Hillary Clinton who initiated the story. She was still in the running for the Party’s nomination and she didn’t hesitate at all to cater to right wing voters and reinforce their perceptions of “liberal elitists”. You can’t make “progress” with people like this.  

I won’t go into the thousands of other examples of disappointments Progressives have lamented about with Obama. You know them all. Other writers have done a thorough job with that. The modern Democratic Party is sick. They have no real beliefs or convictions about anything. They are a generation of politicians who have inherited a great party and have destroyed it. Their signature body of legislation in the  20th century was FDR’s New Deal, a conceptual framework for government action within a capitalist system that enjoyed overwhelming public support. They betrayed it and are now too weak to go back and recapture it even if they wanted to.  

- How about the Supreme Court issue?  

This is the other big argument used against Third Party voters. The Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics but it never has been. It reflects back the political environment from which it emerges. Justices like John Roberts or Antonin Scalia would not have been nominated for the court 40 or 50 years ago. The Right wing has created the political environment where their ideas are now acceptable if not mainstream. Look, there is no such thing as a painless struggle. Some things are going to hurt and if you can’t tolerate that you’re living in a political delusion. Look around the world and see what people really suffer in political causes.

Question for progressives who vote for the Democratic party:

I’m tired of hearing people say “Vote for the Democrats, but after the election keep the pressure on them” or “hold their feet to the fire”. How do you “put pressure” on the Democrats after you’ve already promised them your vote and given away the only possible leverage you have over them? The answer is simple: you can’t. Once they no longer have to do anything to earn your vote they will ignore you and woo corporate dollars. I can’t compete with corporate money. The only thing I have is my vote and my energy. If the Democrats want that from me they’re going to have to try harder to earn it.  

In Conclusion:

In 1992 Ross Perot won about 16% of the national vote in his independent bid for the presidency. He ran on a very limited range of issues, in fact just one; balancing the budget. It’s reasonable to suppose that he took more votes from the Republicans than the Democrats and allowed Clinton to win - his “greater of two evils”.  In 1996 he ran again but only half heartedly, he never really wanted to be president but in 1997, after decades of running deficits even under Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government balanced the budget. A political environment that could make that possible did not exist so had to be created.

I’m not voting for Jill Stein because I’m angry. I have other, better ways of protesting. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because I think she’s a superior candidate. She is a good solid candidate but not a remarkable one. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because I believe that one must always vote one’s true idealistic beliefs. I recognize that there are certainly times when pragmatic compromise is appropriate. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because in New York State it’s “safe”  and the Democrats will win but somehow they’re going to see me and take heed. History teaches us that they won’t. 

I’m voting for Jill Stein for purely pragmatic reasons. It is the best way I can use my vote to achieve the objectives that I want to achieve. I want to halt the progress of a corporate technocracy that is destroying democracy and slowly and deliberately annihilating the memory of a concept called “We the people”. I want to affirm the right of the people in a democracy to act collectively or as individuals whenever they see fit. I want to stop the privatization of education, prisons, the water supply, the military, the post office, the space program, city parks, the airwaves, etc. It is as if the commons have become an entitlement of corporate power. I refuse to be a slave to corporations, instead I want to enslave corporations and make them work for “We the people”.  The only rights that corporations may have are those that we the people decide they may have. 

Under the monopoly of the two major political parties, American elections have become a contest between two advertising agencies. I want to change all that.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

 Attended the
Annual HP Halloween Ball
Salem, MA
with many friends
Oct 26, 2012


October 2nd, I had another follow-up appt with my foot doctor about the stress fracture.  Looks like I’ll be wearing the wrappings and special bootie for one more week.  I participated in the monthly “Peace Alliance” conference call at 9pm.

October 4th, here is an interesting little event ... happened to me earlier this evening and it’s all true. I received a free taxi ride home from 14th Street to my little neighborhood, and it was entertaining. Yep, you heard me, entertaining and after almost 30 years of living in NYC, I find that humanity still surprises me.  Here is my tale ... I had finished some shopping [ie: iPad2] and trying to flag down a taxi. Three slightly tipsy men were also trying to flag a taxi and were eyeballing me. Finally one asked, are you going uptown, to which I replied "no, I am going to Brooklyn". The chap, his name was Mike, asked if I'd like to share a taxi, as they were heading to JFK for a protest with other union chaps. I was skeptical and we talked further while I tried to flag a taxi. With my wonderful coughing, due to lung issues, they thought I smoked and I said "no, 9/11 related" and that caused more "interesting" dialogue.  Yes, they were slightly tipsy, and also very amusing, plus came across as fun, but decent men [ie: Mike, Gil and John]. So, we finally got a taxi and the driver was totally cool about picking us up and I sat in the front seat. Never done that before in taking a taxi, and the driver from Pakistan was really nice. We all laughed, joked and talked all the way through NYC, midtown tunnel and northern Brooklyn. They were thrilled to meet a charming lady who was also a vegan and into activism. They wouldn't even let me pay for the midtown tunnel toll and that is $6.50! They wouldn't allow it at all, though they joked with our driver that I was paying, and the driver looked at me and knew I was getting a free ride.  After a hectic day at the office, well, it felt good to have a laugh and three chaps tell me I was charming :-) Not to worry, I didn't give out my full name, nor my number or company I worked for. That remains confidential :-)

October 5th, I took a sick day from work to further rest my poor “stress fracture” foot.  My friend Deborah stopped by during the afternoon, and she brought series three and four of Doctor Who with David Tennant.  I gave her back series two, which I greatly enjoyed, and we spent several hours chatting on assorted topics.  We also noshed on some delicious Mexican Chocolate vegan cake from The Garden.  Yum!!  Plus she performed the healing powers of Reiki treatment on my back and foot, which felt good.  Later on my good friend Gail stopped by with some groceries and a plant.  Also received, via FedEx, the new bookcase I’d ordered, so that it’ll replace my “old metal” one I had for 25 years.

October 6th, I had a much needed manicure at my local salon.  Felt so good, and I can’t wait to get a much needed pedicure.  That evening, I spent some time online and on the cell phone with Sherrie, a very nice and helpful Apple representative.  It took awhile, but we got my iPad2 to work.

October 7th, mini-tax season is in full swing at the office, and I was asked to assist [ie: secretarial requests] with it for 6 hours.  Oh yeah, OT for me!

October 8th, I stopped by the Apple Store in Grand Central Station to have my iPad2 looked over, upgraded and add a few free applications.

October 9th, follow up with the foot doctor, more therapy, and have to wear the boot one more week.  Afterwards, I headed to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn for the monthly BFP PF committee meeting.  Intense discussions on what direction the PF will go in 2013 and beyond.  We also discussed the upcoming BFP retreat in January or February to iron out our goals for next five years.  This retreat is for board members, of which I’ve been one since June 2012.

October 10th, after working the late shift for the FSO tax team, I stopped by Greenpoint Yoga to see Fabrice.  We chatted about my foot situation and in coming back to the classes in November.

October 12th, I had an appt with my lung specialist and he is pleased with the current stability of my lungs.  Also gave me a supply of inhalers to get me through next few months.

October 14th, mini-tax season is winding down at the office, and I was asked to assist [ie: secretarial requests] with it for 6 hours.  Oh yeah, OT for me!

October 15th, I volunteered at the WCW national office and assisted with computer work.

October 16th, I had an appt with my foot doctor and good news, is that, after Friday I don’t have to wear the “black boot”.  Hurray!  Afterwards, I attended the monthly BFP A&C committee meeting.  We invited Kevin Augustine, from Lone Wolf Tribe, and also Tanja from Dixon Place, to the meeting.  Lone Wolf Tribe and Brooklyn for Peace are partnering up to create a LECTURE series and GALLERY exhibition on the “Costs of War and the Mindfulness of Peace”.  The first of many planning meetings started off with a discussion on details, plus watch a short clip of HOBO GRUNT CYCLE.  It’s all so exciting and much jazzed.

October 19th, I attended the second in a series of "Photography Initiative", here at the office, and today’s workshop delve deeper into how the Manual mode on cameras could be used to get better day to day pictures.  Also, a discussion and demo on sports and fireworks photography.  It was an informative workshop. Next workshop will be on taking macro photos.

October 20th, was a busy day from beginning to end, but in a good way.  I started off the day in front of the library at Grand Army Plaza around 9:30am with Charlotte, Sam and Eloise [BFP].  We were out there handing out flyers about “Say NO to War with Iran”; get people to sign petitions and postcards to their congress people.  Afterwards, I took the subway into Manhattan for a free iPad workshop at the Apple Store in GCS.  It was for beginners and learned some interesting things.  I want to take more of these “free” workshops at the Apple Store, as they are very helpful.  Had abit of lunch and then off to do some shopping at Dress Barn.  Then it was down to Union Square to meet up with my friend Jackie to browse through B&N, then afterwards a nice leisurely dinner to catch up on news etc.  Overall a very good day.

October 21st, I attended the NYC Friends of Tolkien meetup at 3pm, and 14 of us had a delightful time, plus received posters from Warner Bros.

October 22nd, I am officially on vacation this week and it feels so good to sleep late in the mornings.  Got a much needed manicure and pedicure.

October 23rd, I had an appt with my foot doctor for therapy, and afterwards purchased my Amtrak ticket from Penn Station for trip to Salem, MA.  I also finished watching series four of Doctor Who.

October 25th to 28th … Visited Salem, MA for a mini vacation and had a great time.  I stayed at the Clipper Ship Inn, along with my friends Debbie and Deanna.  The Amtrak ride up and back was enjoyable, and very comfy.  Got to tour the “House of the Seven Gables”, which I greatly enjoyed, plus hanging out with many friends.  Attended the annual HP Halloween Ball, and wore my new Hufflepuff Gibby ensemble, which was admired by many.  Then on Saturday evening, about 12+ of us did a walkabout around Salem for many photo op-eds.  One of my fav places to eat at was Gulu-Gulu CafĂ© and we had great weather the whole time. At one point my friends and I were riding around in pedicabs.  It was a blast!  I also visited with my friend Linda, and her daughter Dawn, at their lovely new home.  Plus, I got to meet Linda’s adorable 4-month old grandson Ethan for the first time.  He is so cute!!  Definitely going to visit Salem next year in October.

October 29th saw Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast with category one force. 

Oct 30th and 31st … Excused leave from work due to hurricane and transit issues.  Did some “work” at home, chat on Facebook and also watched Doctor Who episodes on DVD.