Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The State of the Union: Obama vs. Progressives

President Obama's SOTU speech received mostly positive reviews from the mainstream press, but progressives were not happy with the President's "move to the center," and embracing of much of the Republican talking points on cutting spending and corporate taxes, or his championing of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which he is NOT ending as promised.  Mostly, the democratic left was disappointed that Obama failed to take on Wall Street and the financial organizations that were responsible for the current economic crises, and that he did not speak out against outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas.  Like the last corporatist Democratic President, Bill Clinton, Obama is embracing the rhetoric and worldview of his opponents in the Republican Party on "free trade," and American "exceptionalism."

Obama did give a weak defense of Social Security, making it unclear if he would go along with the recommendations of his own deficit commission to cut SS benefits or raise the retirement age.

Obama's Corporate State of the Union

Was the President's Address Total Hogwash?

Obama Defends Social Security, But Aligns with Wall Street on Exporting American Jobs

The Obama/GOP Consensus

Obama Rehashes Dubious Claims About Wars

Obama Calls for Corporate Tax Cuts

The "Sputnik Moment" That Wasn't

But At least Barack Obama was not as bad as his GOP & Tea Party Opponents:

Paul Ryan's SOTU Rebuttal:  The Best They Got?

Michele Bachmann's "Rogue" Tea Party Response

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Tea Party Republican Road to Disaster

Look who the Republican Party chose to present their rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union Tuesday--Rep. Paul Ryan!  Ryan is best known for his "Roadmap for America's Future" which called for privatizing and cutting Social Security and Medicare, a plan that was so radical no major Republican endorsed it!

Think Progress Has more:

Ryan's Radical Vision

Republicans announced last Friday that Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, will deliver the GOP's response to President Obama's State of the Union address tomorrow. According to reports, GOP leaders chose Ryan because he is supposedly a "champion of slashing government spending." The seven-term Wisconsin congressman gives Republicans a "chance to emphasize their core message: government spending must come down to reduce the nation's annual deficit and long-term debt." House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Ryan -- who has been given "stunning and unprecedented" power to shape the budget -- is "uniquely qualified to address the state of our economy and the fiscal challenges that face our country." Ryan is known as the GOP's numbers guy in the House, and he laid out last year what he calls a "Roadmap" to fiscal health. But as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein notes, "The more they elevate Ryan, the more they elevate Ryan's Roadmap. And that document is a timebomb for them."

PRIVATIZING ENTITLEMENTS: Ryan's Roadmap puts Americans on the path of privatizing entitlement programs, such as Social Security. The plan boasts about "the creation of personal investment accounts for future retirees" that are "the property of the individual." (Emphasis in the original document). "Individuals will be able to join the investor class for the first time," the Roadmap says. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes that "the Ryan plan proposes large cuts in Social Security benefits -- roughly 16 percent for the average new retiree in 2050 and 28 percent in 2080 from price indexing alone." It "initially diverts most of these savings to help fund private accounts rather than to restore Social Security solvency." CBPP also notes that the Roadmap "would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children's Health Insurance Program" by creating a private voucher system that won't keep up with the cost of health care. By 2080, under Ryan's plan, the Medicare program would be reduced by nearly 80 percent below its projected size under current policies. CBPP summed up Ryan's plan: The Roadmap's cuts "would be so severe that CBO estimates they would shrink total federal expenditures (other than on interest payments) from roughly 19 percent of GDP in recent years to just 13.8 percent of GDP by 2080. Federal spending has not equaled such a low level of GDP since 1950, when Medicare and Medicaid did not yet exist, Social Security failed to cover many workers, and close to half of the elderly people in the United States lived below the poverty line."

MIDDLE CLASS TAX INCREASES: Citizens for Tax Justice found that Ryan's Roadmap would raise taxes on 90 percent of taxpayers and drastically lower them for the richest Americans. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently reported that the rates for the middle class would be higher than those for the rich under Ryan's plan. "Middle-class families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year would see their average tax rate jump to 19.1% (from 17.7%) under this plan -- an increase of $900 on average," EPI says, while at the same time, "Millionaires would see their average tax rate drop to 12.8%, less than half of what they would pay relative to current policy." As EPI's Andrew Fieldhouse concluded, under the Roadmap, "a long tradition of progressive taxation would be abandoned; millionaires and Wall Street bankers would pay significantly lower tax rates than middle-class workers. ... Income inequality would soar." In another giveaway to the rich, the Roadmap calls for a total repeal of the estate and corporate taxes and would introduce a national sales tax. Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) said this idea "would eat up a much larger percentage of total income for poor and middle-class families than wealthy families" because the former "spend most or all of their income on consumption," while "high-income families are able to save much more of their income." Ryan's plan claims federal tax revenue will be 19 percent of GDP, but the Tax Policy Center found last year that his proposal would only bring in "approximately 16 percent of GDP, which amounts to a $4 trillion revenue shortfall over ten years."

LESS REVENUE, MORE DEBT: Despite raising taxes on 90 percent of Americans, the federal government will lose $2 trillion in revenues over the next 10 years under Ryan's plan, according to CTJ. "It's difficult to design a tax plan that will lose $2 trillion over a decade even while requiring 90 percent of taxpayers to pay more. But Congressman Ryan has met that daunting challenge," CTJ wrote. Looking at the most optimistic figures, the Roadmap won't balance the budget until at least 2063 and it won't reduce federal debt for decades, exceeding 100 percent of GDP before starting to come down. While proposing drastic cuts to entitlement programs, Ryan said he wants to reduce discretionary spending -- which includes such expenditures as education, homeland security and other defense spending -- but he has no idea what programs to cut. "I can't tell you the answer to that," he said earlier this month. However, anticipating the plan's unpopularity, GOP leadership isn't publicly embracing Ryan's plan but at the same time, it appears willing to allow it to go forward. During the midterm election campaign, the GOP dropped Ryan's Roadmap from its "Pledge to America" scheme and as the conservative National Review noted last week, "praise for the Wisconsin Republican comes easy and often, full-scale endorsement of the roadmap less so." But while Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said last week that he supports only "elements" of the plan, he said yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press that "we need to embrace" its direction. And last year, Boehner wouldn't endorse the Roadmap, but at the same time couldn't name any specific part he disagreed with. But if Boehner dislikes Ryan's plan so much, it's unclear why he made him chairman of the House Budget Committee and gave him new and unprecedented powers to unilaterally set spending limits instead of subjecting those limits to a vote on the House floor. Speaking of Ryan's new power, Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said, "Unfortunately, the House GOP is reverting back to the same arrogant governing style they implemented when they last held the majority and turned a surplus into a huge deficit."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GOP House Votes to Repeal Affordable Healthcare for All

As expected, the new Republican House voted 245 to 189 to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act passed by the previous Democratic House and Senate last year. And they continued to LIE about it!

The GOP's 5 Most Absurd Lies About Health Care Reform

GOP Health Care Repeal:  A Fact-Twisting Crock

"Obamacare" and the Big GOP "JOB-KILLING" LIES

Health Reform By the Numbers

And before the right-wing Tea-baggers take their argument that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, they should read this:

Congress Passes "Socialized" Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance--in 1798!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

MLK: A Real Progressive

Even most conservatives now praise Dr. Martin Luther King as a good man who stood for equality and civil rights, etc.  But MLK had a lot more to say than just judge people by the content of their character not by the color of their skin.  He spoke truth to power--he stood for economic and social justice for everyone, not just racial equality.  And he was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.

By 1967, King had become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was murdered -- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."
Time magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

While conservatives, even right-wing Tea Party leaders like Glenn Beck, claim to defend MLK's dream and legacy, the truth is MLK was what they would call a "Socialist."  King called for CUTTING military spending, increasing social spending to END poverty, redistribution of wealth, and an end to U.S. militarism.  King condemned the individualistic, selfish, greed that defines modern conservatism and the Tea Party movement.  He would support a single-payer national health care system, not private insurance companies.  He would support raising taxes on the rich to provide healthcare, education, etc. for the poor, not more tax cuts and austerity plans to roll back the New Deal and Great Society.  He worked with and supported socialists and communists.  

In fact, MLK challenged so much of the mainstream views of America, that you will not hear about any of that on the national MLK Holiday in the United States.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Who will Stand UP to the NRA?

It is time to stand up to the NRA and the Gun Lobby!  Guns DO KILL!
If the automatic weapons ban was not allowed to expire, Jared Loughner would not have been able to LEGALLY purchase a Glock semi-automatic pistol with a 30 round clip!

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Gun Crazy:  NRA and Pentagon

Only One Fact:  Loughner Got a Gun

The Second Amendment Demands Gun Control

More on Gun Control at Huffington Post

Monday, January 10, 2011

Right-Wing, Guns & Violence

Of course, the right-wing, especially the Tea Party, is on the defensive disclaiming any blame for the hateful political tone in the United States in the aftermath of the mass murder in Tucson, Arizona. The right-wing is very good at turning reality upside down, and is trying now to blame LIBERALS for inciting hate and violence, despite a lack of any evidence.

No one on the political left, certainly no major media or political personality, has said anything remotely inciting violence. But listen to the right-wing Tea Party candidates Sharon Angle ("Second Amendment Solutions") and Michelle "armed and dangerous" Bachmann. Or the crazy rantings of right-wing lunatic Glenn Beck, who actually calls for the murder and assassination of liberals and progressives on his national TV and radio shows!

Has anyone on the liberal/progressive left made any statements like these?

1. Rush Limbaugh: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never forget what these people stood for."

2. Senator Phil Gramm: "We're going to keep building the party until we're hunting Democrats with dogs."

3. Rep. James Hansen on Bill Clinton: Get rid of the guy. Impreach him, censure him, assassinate him."

4. John Derbyshire intimated in the National Review that because Chelsea Clinton had "the taint," she should "be killed."

5. Ann Coulter: "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too."

6. Ann Coulter: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."

7. Bill O'Reilly: "ll those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains."

8. Clear Channel radio host Glenn Beck said he was "thinking about killing Michael Moore" and pondered whether "I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it," before concluding: "No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong?"

NO, not one!

The Tea Party and the right-wing are defensive because they KNOW they are guilty of promoting violence and hatred toward liberals and progressives.

Gabrille Giffords, a centrist Democrat, was "targeted" by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party both literally and figuratively. After the vote on healthcare reform, Giffords was among a dozen Demcrats who were the victims of vandalism and threats of violence from the Tea Party wing-nuts. When asked if Giffords had any political enemies, her husband said, "The whole Tea Party." He was right.

How Right-Wing's Rhetoric Fueled Arizona Mass Murder
Hate and Violence are Encoded on the DNA of the American Right
The Tea Party and the Tucson Tragedy
Hate Speech: The Right's Magic Bullett

And the real issue is how did a psychopath like Jared Loughner get an automatic weapon? You can thank the right-wing militia backed NRA for that too! In 1994, Bill Clinton signed into law an assault weapons ban, which would have made the Glock-19 30 round pistol Loughner used to kill five people illegal. Under George W. Bush, that law was allowed to expire.

Only One Fact in Arizona: Loughner Got a Gun
The Giffords Gun Clip: How a Weapon of Mass Destruction Became a "Second Amendment Solution"
Gun Control Timeline: 7 Big Events in the Federal Gun Control Debate

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Support Memphis Progressive Talk

You are invited to be part of the only “progressive talk” radio program in Memphis, Memphis Progressive Talk, with Jim Maynard!

Talk radio in Memphis is currently dominated by a one-sided conservative perspective. I believe it is important in a democratic society to have different perspectives presented in the media, and it is not healthy for only one perspective to dominate public discourse.

Memphis Progressive Talk will air weekly, Saturdays 5-6 PM, on KWAM 990 AM, and feature discussion of important political and social issues from a liberal/progressive perspective, supportive of labor, equality for all, economic and social justice, and peace. With your support, I hope to expand the program in the near future.

I hope you can help me make this radio program a reality and broaden the political discussion on Memphis talk radio. Let’s discuss what you can do to sponsor Memphis Progressive Talk on KWAM 990 AM beginning in January 2011.

Email me at
Jim Maynard

Right-Wing's Violent Rhetoric Breeds Violence

The anti-government lunatic who opened fire on Arizona Congress woman Gabrielle Giffords may not have been a card carrying member of the Tea Party, but he was certainly influenced by some of the extremist right-wing conspiracy theories that influence the thinking and actions of the wing nuts who circle around the fringe of the racist anti-government Tea Party movement.

The assassin, Jared Loshner, was a right-wing lunatic who believed that the government was using mind control and grammar to control people. The FBI is investigating his links to American Renaissance, a right-wing racist anti-Semitic hate group. (Rep. Giffords was Jewish.).

Perhaps he was influenced by Gifford's Tea Party Republican opponent who invited his supporters to fundraisers to shot automatic weapons to "target" Giffords, or by Tea Party leader Sarah Palin's map of the U.S with gun targets over Giffords and other Democrats for defeat in the 2010 election.

Maybe the guilt of such associations is why Sarah Palin scrubbed the targets from her websites and why the Tea Party Nation was quick to blame left-wing liberals for the violent actions of Jared Loshner.

Shooter May Have Ties to Right-Wing Hate Groups

SPLC: Who is Jared Loughner?

How Right's Rhetoric Fueled Arizona's Mass Murder

Keith Olbermann Special Comment on AZ Shooting

-Jim Maynard