Mary Pitt

Here’s Your Hat: What’s Your Hurry?

The GOP's newest 'mobile home'

This was a dominant theme by some of the Republicans who appeared on the weekend “news” talk shows as they advocated early adjournment by the current Congressmen. Their argument? These people have already faced the voters and lost so they should just fold their tents and quietly go home, leaving the nation unattended and its citizens without even a fiscal budget until the Republicans can be sworn in and “take the helm.”

(Is it not strange that Republicans always say that they are doing manly things like “steering the course” or “driving the train” after they have, according to the President, “driven the car into the ditch?’) They are so utterly confident that they know best what the nation needs and what the people want even in the face of the great fiasco that their former president created. Now, they want the Democratic majority to simply throw up their hands and go home while the rest of us want them to roll up their sleeves and get as much done as possible in the short time remaining.

Not only the Progressives but the vaunted “Independents” will shortly regret their decision to “punish” President Obama by sitting on their hands and withholding their support in the Congressional elections. The Party of HELL, NO will revert to the Party of WHY NOT the instant that they take control of the House and have the Senate hobbled beyond any ability to act. Their campaign-trail protestations of fealty to the Constitution will fade to a whisper as they pass measure after measure to continue their path of turning our nation from a beacon of freedom to one of primeval slavery as they continue to scrape every shred of pride from the “have-nots.”

You lose your home? Live on the streets! You can’t afford to feed your kids? Cook a stray cat! You are sick? Go ahead and die but just don’t litter the streets!

This will be the predominant attitude as they try to pass laws to revoke the new health care provisions, and end Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Unemployment, rather than being extended will be ended without ceremony so that the working class must “accept their fate.” Food stamps and school feeding programs will end so that the corporate farmers will be able to get all the money that is appropriated for that purpose. Wages will fall into the ditch and the few jobs that remain will be at what is now no more than minimum wage. Those who lived prudently and now own their own homes will find themselves trying to sell them at a fraction of their real value.

This is truly a grim future but it is one that those with eyes have predicted all during the Bush regime and, if the Republicans continue their march to absolute control, the prediction will become reality in an amazingly few years. We seem to be on the slippery slope that leads to the miseries of the Great Depression and, if the American voters do not wake up to the fact that politics is no longer a game, but a very real war, it will not take long.

If one doubts that this could happen “in this country”, one should read the history of the world and learn how it happened in the past in other places. With the advent of the Christmas season, perhaps one should again watch the beginning of the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.” See the man who worked from dawn to dusk for very little money to maintain a home and rear his children, one of whom was in dire need of medical care and in danger of dying. Note the sheer misery of their existence.

Don’t bother to watch the last part, though, because there are no Ghosts of Christmas and the rich are not about to realize how miserly they are. They will not be able to see the suffering of their underpaid minions because they just don’t care! Ponder this as you determine whether we would be better off with a Republican president in 2012 so that these ravening beasts would be free to continue their depredations.

This has happened to every other powerful nation in history until they become so enfeebled by conquest that they have nothing left with which to defend themselves. The United States of America is getting close to that point. If the Republicans continue to rule in the paths of George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and Alan Simpson, you may find that it will be sooner than you think.

Small Business for Dummies

Most Americans work hard at their jobs and look forward to getting a paycheck at the end of a period but have little knowledge of the process by which their employers function. They simply work for the business and think of their own income as being the amount on the face of the check and many have no idea of what is or is not purchased with the amounts deducted from their gross pay. Few have any idea of how or whether their employers are paid. Now, as Congress ponders the end of the tax cuts that President Bush initiated early in his tenure, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction in the arguments for and against that are being presented, particularly in the area of “small business” vs. “corporations”.

The Democrats propose to keep the tax cuts for individuals earning less that $250,000 per year while letting those for people earning more to rise to help cover the expenses of salvaging the national economy. In return, the Republicans are pleading for all the tax cuts to remain in place for the sake of “small business”. They tell us that any increase on those with taxable income of a quarter-million dollars a year will “devastate small business and sacrifice jobs”. Don’t buy that malarkey! A little knowledge of business, bookkeeping, and ownership will help wade through all the “bogie-speak” and let us understand what is being considered.

First, the proposed figures would apply to the individual income. That lets out the corporatinos, whether large or small. It would apply only to privately-owned businesses such as a home-service company that does things like plumbing or appliance repair, some car-repair shops, construction companies, or mom-and-pop neighborhood stores.

And the figure applies only to taxable income. That is the amount that the boss has left over after he has paid all the employees, matched their Social Security deductions, paid whatever contribution is necessary for the unemployment insurance, the insurance on the business facility and the equipment, the cost of any materials used or sold in the business, the repairs and utilities necessary to keep that equipment running, (the “cost of doing business), and any taxes, licenses, etc. that may be imposed on the business by the city, county, or state.

In determining the “taxable income” of the owner, first the gross is computed. This is the total amount collected from the goods or services by the business. In a business that is at all successful, that could be a staggering number! But then, so is the total number of the expenses which must be subtracted from it in order to determine the net profit or loss from the business. If one person owns the business, this will be their taxable income. If more than one person owns the business, that figure must be divided between them. In most cases, it will be a whole lot less than a quarter-million!

This knowledge, while simplified, may give one a better understanding of the issue at hand. It does not completely apply in the case of a corporation, beyond the basics, but they are taxed under an entirely different system involving things like “shares”, “reinvestment”, and other esoteric terms that are not necessary in a discussion of “small business”.

Why are the right-wing loud-mouths trying to scare you to death about the fair and necessary tax increase on the investor-class to whom George W. Bush handed the keys to the national treasury? Because they are the ones who do not want to pay their fair share! I hope the debate makes more sense once you truly understand the subject that is being discussed. As currently planned, the same bill that will increase the tax burden on the really-well-off will also carry an extension of the cuts for the low-income and a reduction for the middle class. That is you, so get out there and support it! When opponents strut around like pretentious hens, crying “Cut! Cut! Cut! Barack!”, you will know that they are full of “Cockle-Doo-Doo, too!” It is trite but true that the reason we must “tax the rich” is because the poor have no money.

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

Debt Commission: A Predictable Outcome

Time for some wrenching changes - Right Now!

When President Obama announced that he would be naming a commission to work out a plan for reduction of the national debt, some of us expected that the people to be named would include such names as Paul Krugman and Jonathan Turley, a man with expertse in matters financial, and one with great knowledge of history and constitutionality. Instead, he named as co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson which thoroughly dampened any hope for a real progressive solution that could possibly solve the problem. The rest of the panel was merely an afterthought to most of us. It was much like his announcement of all the Clinton/Bush retreads to work with him in the White House. Without a doubt, these people and their opinions lowered our expectations and hopes for a really progressive program of reform in the most necessary areas of government.

As for the “co-chairs”, the selection of these two men was the most perplexing. Both held their positions of importance in a totally different era and have seen no reason to change their minds about anything since the Reagan years. Former Senator Simpson was always a hard-right Republican who felt that the government had no business even dabbling in the area of health care or the welfare of the common people. He spent almost his entire career in trying to eliminate Social Security and every other vestige that we ever had a president named Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Erskine Bowles served about the same amount of time as an advisor to a number of presidents in years gone by, in between hitches on Wall Street.

Now, both these esteemed gentlemen spend their time sitting in their lavish homes, re-living their days of glory, secure in their respective government pensions, and complaining that their fat investment portfolios are so successful that they still must pay a bit of income tax. Their own retirement is secure and they don’t want their heirs to pay any tax for the privilege of inheriting their assets when they pass. Both chafe at the prospect of any of “their money” being used to support those “lesser people” who were less fortunate, (or more compassionate), than they. In short, chalk up one more bad decision by President Obama.

Now we are back to Square One; how should the problem be handled? When pondering problems of national finance, I find it very useful to consult my friend, Richard, and I did so this morning when discussing the news. He had one of the best takes on the problem that I have heard:

“We read all the time the right-wing garbage that ‘every man, woman, and child owes $135,000 as their share of the national debt.’ Let’s be perfectly fair and divide it equally among all of us–right after we divide income and wealth the same way–equally. After all, we do want to be perfectly fair, don’t we?”

Realistically, we know that that is not going to happen! But the answer is still out there in that unexplored space where Congressional Republicans and a large number of Democrats refuse to go. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would be a huge leap forward. Granted, it would not please the Middle Class or anybody else. But it’s called “sacrifice”, something with which those of us who can recall World War II are intimately familiar. Nobody has ever yet been asked to sacrifice to pay for Bush’s Wars. It has all been done on the national credit card; all the unnecessary spare parts and second engines for the fighter planes, the rip-offs by the “civilian contractors’, the pay-offs to the blackmailing despots that we installed in the conquered territories. All of it has been kicked down the road with the intent of leaving the payment to generations yet unborn.

Now, we have reached the end of the road. Bush’s bar tab must be paid. The bouncers are ready to break a few kneecaps, and we have no choice but to pay. The leaders of the United States have been on a ten-year power binge but now the bar is closed. While the leaders of the nation want to penny-pinch their way out of the situation, cutting off the flow of food to the kids and the elders will not do it. With the 90% top tax rate of the Eisenhower years lodged in the memory, the answer seems clear.

The only funds available to the government come from taxation and that is the monster that keeps the rich awake at night. That’s okay. While they’re lying awake, worrying about their stockpile of cash and investments being “raided”, the rest of us are lying awake, worrying about how we will manage to pay the rent or feed the kids until we can earn or borrow more money. It is well past time that the “have-nots” tell the “haves”, “Welcome to the club! We have to pay our bills or live on the street. Now you must pay yours because there is no room for you in our neighborhood.”

The exorbitant tax breaks must go! The rates must be adjusted upward. The bills must be paid. Now, just do it!

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

To hell with compromise: This is WAR!

On the day after the election, we have learned how much government money could buy. But it was not enough! Some of the Tea Party candidates went down in flames but enough eked out wins to change the complexion of the House and now the Republicans are making plans to repeal all the acts of the last two years and to virtually cancel all the improvements that the Democrats worked so hard to enact. Even in the President’s press conference, we saw not a fighter but a man who is eager to compromise and to “work things out” with the Republicans. But the Progressives have seen enough compromise to last a good long while.

We watched as the single payer health insurance, even the “public option” was compromised off the table. Nobody bothered to mention the correction of the acts by George W. Bush and Company which were shady and blatantly illegal. We were to “let bygones be bygones” in order to salvage what was left of the United States of America. Even that salvaging operation was met by a stone wall which would not allow many proposals to pass in the manner which was intended. We will now see whether the Democratic Congressmen learned anything from the Republican tactics.

It would be simple, since the Democrats still control the Senate, if they were to do just as the Republican majority has done in the last two years. Any bills that they pass in the House can be stopped in the Senate, (if our Senators have th IQ of an angle worm.) One Senator can put a hold on even considering it, thanks to the cockamamey rules that the Republicans persuaded the gullible Democrats to approve. So filibuster it is! There is no way they can get any repeal of the health care act. If the Senate thinks that the President hasn’t the intestinal fortitude to refuse to sign, they should muster the troops and not leave the decision to him.

The Republicans have plans to extend the Bush tax cuts, even for the rich. Let them expire for everybody! That’s what Bush planned when he placed a time limit on them. Folks who made good money when the act was passed don’t have to worry because, now, they aren’t making enough money to worry much about the amount of their income tax. Most of us who are not filthy rich don’t mind paying taxes anyway. We are sufficiently fond of our democracy that we are willing to pay what is needed in order to keep ourselves and our freedoms intact. We consider that as the price we pay for being Americans. Only the wealthy object to paying their dues and, since they have just demonstrated that they can spend tens of billions of dollars in buying congressmen, they can’t expect much sympathy if they have to pay a bit more in taxes.

The Progressives need to pull up our socks and demand that the Congress recognize our determination to prevail at last. We would applaud their actions if they would block any further war funding. (Republicans cry about “too much government spending!) We are tired of seeing our sons, brothers, and fathers being retained against their will in the miserable war zones with no victory in sight after the longest war in American history. Instead of spending more money on war, we should use that money to try to rehabilitate and compensate our soldiers when they come home. Some have spent years in miserable living conditions and the sight of mayhem in the midst of constant threat to life and their repatriation to civilian life will be long and very expensive.

Progressives and many mainstream Democrats will agree with Ed Schultz that the conciliatory attitude of the President in his news conference was disheartening. This is no time for diplomatic playing nice. Anything that might have been accomplished in the next Congressional session will be less than satisfactory due to the increased strength of the opposition. It will take a strong stand by both the Senate and the President in order to make any progress. If that does not happen, we need a Plan B.

We need to look at the possibility of opposing President Obama in the 2012 election. There are some good possibilities waiting in the wings and we need to be looking at them. For instance, both Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson are going to be sitting out the political dance for the next two years and they should be encouraged ro consider running. There are many good Progressives who are qualified and we should be looking at them in the event President Obama proves to be too eager to go along to get along.

We must accept this power change not as an end to our dreams but only as a beginning. We swept Barack Obama into office in 2008 and and we can sweep him back out in 2012. It’s up to him.

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

Is This What You Want?

We tried it their way once before - remember?

Are you sitting there bored with all the political chatter? Are you mistrustful of both parties or do you consider them all to be bought and paid for? Do you think that Obama has not lived up to his promises and it simply doesn’t matter who wins in the many elections for Congress? Well, listen up and I’ll tell you what you can expect if the Republicans take the majority in Congress this year.

The best thing that will happen once the “loyal opposition” takes charge of Congress will be that they do absolutely nothing. It will be even worse than in the last sessions as the Congress refuses to pass any of the measures that the President recommends. In turn, Congress will pass a series of measures that will negate any programs or reforms that have been passed by the out-going Congress. They will vote to close the education programs and reinstate “No Child Left Behind” so that our kids will all be left behind. They will revoke all the provisions of the Health Care Reform so that you will lose your insurance should you become seriously ill; you will be unable to insure a disabled child; your college student will no longer be allowed to remain on your policy and your premiums will continue to rise; your unemployment insurance will run out and there will be no extension to help sustain your family until you can get another job, which is unlikely since nobody will be trying to create programs to encourage job creation.

Of course, all those “Republican ideas” will not happen should the President choose to do anything but sit at his desk and wield his veto pen on all the cockamamey giveaways to the super-rich and the revocations of all the reforms that have been accomplished. Even then, we can’t expect anything at all to be accomplished during the next two years. We will be in a state of doldrums so that economic conditions will, at the end of those two years, be as bad as they were at the end of Hoover’s term. The investment banks will find newer and more duplicitous ways to get what money remains in the working class until we will all have lost our homes and have to work at slave wages for enough bread to feed our families and ourselves as we try to find outdoor shelters to keep us from the elements. And, of course, we can just forget obtaining any medical care since we certainly won;t be able to pay the ever-increasing premiums on the policies. And don’t bank on free charity clinics because there won’t be any. Neither will there be any soup lines for very long as the charities that run them will also run out of money without the Federal assistance on which many of them depend.

You may think I am exaggerating but I must tell you this. I was born in 1930 and I remember the abject poverty of the working people during the latter part of that decade. We lived on farms in the more remote areas and not a week went by that men would not stop at our house to offer to work for food. As they ate whatever was offered, they would tell us of wives and children left behind as they removed themselves from the household so that there would be one less mouth to feed on few vegetables that his wife could raise in the back yard or consume the tiny amounts that his wife could earn taking in laundry or ironing. They could barely earn enough “on the road” to keep up their own strength so they could work a bit and go on down the road, searching for “greener pastures.”

Should these things happen again, every working-class American will be despising you almost as much as you despise yourself for listening to the right-wing propaganda, doubting your own principles, and “teaching Obama a lesson” instead of getting up and going to the polls to try to avert a Republican take-over of Congress in January.

If that is really what you want, then go for it, Brother! Just keep your mouth shut about it after the sky falls on you. It may be dangerous out there.

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

Tear down the Statue of Liberty

Baum and friends have no respect for your rights

Who cares about Liberty anymore?

It seems that the Statue of Liberty has lost its meaning and so might as well be razed and the island on which it stands can be put to better use, something like another huge amusement park for the enrichment of Disney or some other large entertainment corporation. If you doubt that this is true, try reading and really thinking about the words that are inscribed on its base:

Send me your tired, your poor
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Your huddled masses yearning to be free
Send these your tempest-toss’d to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Does that make sense to you? As if we didn’t have enough tired, poor, and wretched refuse of our own! Why should we import more? There just isn’t enough money to keep them alive but they would be better off dead, right? Just ignore them and let God handle the problem.

If those who sprung from the Tea Party to win the primary elections really represent the “will of the people”, we all have to change our political philosophy. A good start at that can be accomplished by the destruction of the Statue of Liberty. It, like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, has become another tool for the take-over of our government. We all need to “dumb down” even more than during the Bush administration and stop bothering to read those historic documents and the history of the country. You see, our leaders will be those who wear Statue of Liberty costumes to Tea Parties even though the impressive statue was not even there during the Revolution. It was a gift from France (!) to celebrate the centennial of our beginning and the assistance that we gave them in the fight for their own democracy.

The ultra-religious Right has also neglected to familiarize themselves with the contents of the Constitution. They insist that President Obama is not a citizen despite his birth in Hawaii because his father was Kenyan. In one place, the Constitution speaks of “natural-born” and in others the phrase “within the jurisdiction of the United States”. This means that anybody who is born in a facility or location where the laws of the United States apply is, thus, a natural-born American citizen. There was no outcry about John McCain being born in Panama both because his parents were American and because he was born in a military facility. Further, upon the granting of independence of the Philippines, children of one Philippine citizen and an American could choose their nationality.

Now we find ourselves faced with the problem of the tired, the poor, the tempest-tossed wretched refuse from Mexico and points South. There are too many of them to deport all at once and many are parents of United States citizens who are too young to leave behind. Would it over-crowd the country to let them stay? Surely, this great nation can manage to do all the paperwork that would be necessary to document them. Then, perhaps rather than to build walls, we could build ports of entry at the border where they could present themselves for documentation. After a computer check to prove that they are not felons or diseased, the proper papers could be furnished to let them walk in openly. Initially, it might be necessary to provide housing while they wait but, if the Golden Door will open for them, they will tolerate it patiently.

That Golden Door has opened for people from every nation in the world and every one of them who came with the yearning for a better life has become a productive part of society. Why not now? Because it would take too much money? Aye, there’s the rub! We would have to pay taxes to cover the expenses and the payment of taxes has become a burden to those with “money to burn.” And the more they have, the harder they hang onto it. They don’t want to pay an honest wage for an honest day’s work and they don’t want to pay taxes!

Despite their loud protestations of Christianity, they have chosen to serve Mammon. AND THEY ARE WINNING! We thought our nation had undergone a change for the worse during the Bush administration but, if we allow this union between the religious right and the extremely wealthy to succeed in taking over our country, none of our sacred documents will mean a thing. In that case, we may as well tear down the Statue of Liberty, burn the Constitution, and stack the Declaration with the other books of fairy tales.

“Once upon a time, in a land far, far way, there was a beautiful land where all people were created equal and had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

With Friends Like These

My middle-American heart swelled with pride in January, 2009, as our new President took his oath of office: pride in an America that could choke back two hundred years of prejudice and go to vote for a young, untried man to lead us out of the swamp in which the last holder of that seat had stranded us; pride that we had survived with sufficient strength that we could avail ourselves of the opportunity to rebuild out nation to the land of freedom and opportunity that we once enjoyed, and pride that the common people had come out in force to win the election and restore our ownership of our own democracy.

How wrong!

The very same people who elected this man and, in addition, gave him a predominently Democratic Congress to assist him in his task, are the ones who are sitting on their haunches and wailing like a pack of forlorn hound dogs. “He set the wrong priorities!” “He isn’t doing enough!” “He isn’t doing it fast enough!” “He’s a failure!” These are not the words from the opposition. They are the words of his supporters! Those same people who turned out in droves and, at times, literally fought their way to the polling places so they could participate in the re-birth of a nation. The same ones who declared their Progressive stances celebrated the end of Bush-Cheney with hoots and cheers. We were admirers and friends of Barrack Hussein Obama and were aching to get on with the task ahead. These wonderful people are now opting to get off the bandwagon and walk!

It started very early. “He should not have appointed Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State. She will sell him down the river.” “He has kept too many retreads from Bush and Clinton administrations.” “He failed to jam the health care measures that we wanted down the throats of Congress.” In short, while Obama has completed some tasks which many thought, and attempted to prove, were highly improbable, he is now being condemned for failing to perform the impossible! “The budget is still not balanced!” “The deficit is growing!” “We still have combat troops overseas!” This sort of thing is to be expected from the right wing as they attempt to regain their congressional control but to hear it from Democrats and even Progressives is disheartening, to say the least.

This widespread depression among the Progressives is certainly understandable. We wanted universal health insurance issued by the government with uniform premiums, total coverage, reasonably priced with no allowance for profit; we wanted some form of public employment to compensate for the loss of jobs; we wanted re-negotiation on all the “fair trade” agreements which took the factories offshore; we wanted a prompt end to the Bush wars. We wanted Christmas! However, we were not able to provide a Congress with a sufficient majority to carry those plans through against the determined opposition of the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats arrayed against us.

So now what do we do? We sulk in a corner, vote third party or vote with our feet! We act like a bunch of unhappy children on Christmas morning because “Santa Claus is a fake!” This is the time for us to re-affirm the dedication that we professed for the improvement of humanity by stepping up, stepping out and working for the new Congressional Progressive candidates for re-election and giving the President as much support as we did before his election. We can still control the damage inflicted by the Tea Party and the millionaire manipulators behind the Republican Party so we can continue to get as much improvement as possible in the next session.

It’s time to put on our Big Boy pants, roll up our sleeves and get out the vote for Our Side. Just remember that it took eight years for George Bush to tear down the nation as we knew and loved it and it was silly of us to expect Barack Obama to re-assemble it in less than two years. Let’s get out and promote the Progressive viewpoint, turn out the vote, and give the only President we have as much assistance as we can for the next two years. Then there will be plenty of time for us to choose a new progressive candidate for 2012. Allowing Republicans to take total control will result in the cancellation of improvements that we have accomplished and cause still more damage to democracy. Otherwise, we will find ourselves with another Great Depression and/or another war.

The choice is ours.

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

The white hot urgency of now

The time is running short for the Liberal movement who placed President Obama in the White House to get serious about the programs that are needed NOW, not next year or the year after or sometime in the future. The Republicans, the Party of HELL, NO have kicked the can down the road and will not rest until we are all in the ditch and they will not relent until we have jouneyed all the way to that famous creek. We need to increase the pressure on Congress until they all cry, “Uncle”. We must apply pressure in every way we can think of to get what the unemployed, the underemployed, and their families on the way back up to thinking about The American Dream.

What more can we do? We can generate a little enthusiasm on our part and take some actions that will make it very clear that the old policies of Bush that are still hanging on will not be tolerated. We don’t have to travel to major cities and make fools of ourselves like the Tea Party but we can do many things from right here at home. We must not dither about, trying to think of possible presidential prospects for 2012. By that time, given the propensity of the Republicans for cutting taxes on the rich while creating more hungry children, they may have brought about a Hoover debacle. Here are a few things we can do and you can surely think of more:

Don’t let them go home! Petition Congress in every way possible, with e-mails, phone calls, and any chance you get to speak to your representative in Congress. Tell them that there is a serious National Emergency and the president needs their help in the same way President Bush got the help he needed after 9/11. Let Leader Pelosi and Speaker Harry Reid know that there is too much work to do to allow extra time for running for re-election. If your Congressman, regardless of party, dares to show up at a public campaign effort, challenge them with the question, “Shouldn’t you be on the job dealing with this emergency instead of out here hob-nobbing with your donor buddies?” You will get thrown out but it will be worth the sacrifice.

Tell President Obama that there is another way! We all remember President Bush and all the things he did without Congressional approval. He had discovered the power of “interim appointments” and “Executive Orders” and refined them to an art. If President Obama chooses to do so, he could emulate George Bush and, by direction to the heads of the departments in his administration, reform the practices which allow other nations to victimize the American citizen. They could re-direct the rates of tariffs on imports and enlarge assistance to Americans in areas of the greatest need. If Congress doesn’t like it, they can always hurry back to Washington and get back to work representing American citizens.

Stay out of Wal Mart! Unless you are already so poor that you need to squeeze every penny just to stay alive, find a locally-owned store to patronize. The reason Wal Mart prices are so low is because their products are produced by slave labor in China or Mexico. If we continue to patronize Wal Mart and the other price-cutting stores, in a year or two, the slave labor will be you! Certainly there are people who can get a little more food for their money at WalMart than they can at the local Mom and Pop but those of us who can pay a few cents more will not only be protesting the out-sourcing of our factories to foreign countries but will be helping Mom and Pop to continue making a living.

Buy American whenever possible! If you don’t find a label in the clothing that indicates it is American-made. ask the manager where it came from. Ask your store manager, if necessary, where the produce was grown, where the meat was grown and processed. Once they find out that the imported stuff doesn’t sell as well as the homegrown, you won’t have to look as hard to find the fresh stuff that was produced by your fellow Americans. Patriotism is born in the super market.

Never say die! Sure, the progress that has been made by this administration has been slow and difficult but allowing the election of more Republicans would not help a bit. Senator Mitch McConnell may say that the gain of a few more seats by the Republicans will mean a more “balanced Congress” but, in fact, it will mean nothing more nor less than a total stalemate which will surely lead to a repeat of another Great Depression. We, as progressive Americans, must not allow the dream to die. We must ever be conscious that there are no timeouts when your child is hungry and there is no campaign season trip home when the nation is bleeding.

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

Fear Itself


By Mary Pitt

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Toward the end of the reign of the Bush regime, Mr. Bush began to consider the “legacy” of his presidency, setting up a library to hold his papers and to assure that this nation would never forget his term in office. However, there is no way that the real legacy of his two-term rule would ever be memorialized in any facility bought and paid for by his political machine. He has made a mark on our American soul that will remain a very long time; like a large scar from an almost-fatal wound.

On September 11, 2001, the whole nation saw the awesome destruction of the World Trade Center. If not actually on the site, we saw it live on television or played and re-played on the news. The actual deed, followed by the speeches by President Bush and his followers and assistants, drove the knife of that legacy deep into the hearts of Americans everywhere. That legacy was a paralyzing fear; gut-wrenching, breath-taking, spine-tingling, blood-chilling FEAR!

To a generation that grew up with air-raid drills, stop-drop-and-cover admonitions pounded into our young consciousness, the horrors of Korea and Vietnam, and the seemingly never-ending Cold War, it took little chain-rattling for the fight-or-flight instinct to become activated. Add to that the patriotic adages that we have learned from history, “The Red, White, and Blue don’t run!” and you have a compliant herd of sheep that will do as commanded by whomever is in charge.

Under that impetus Congress, for the first time in history, granted the President the unmitigated authority to go to war without a Constitutional mandate. In addition, as he did precisely this, not once but twice, they also handed him the national credit card with no limit. Nobody asked how much it would cost. Nobody asked whether our “all-volunteer military” was strong enough to fight a two-front war. Nobody dared suggest the reinstatiement of the draft which had served this nation so well in the past. Instead, the National Guard was taken from their traditional obligations to protect the “home front” and sent to war. Armed militia were hired to supplement our forces and contracts were let for the furnishing of meals, transport, and other essential services, paid for by “credit card” and which remain unpaid.

The nation as a whole was deeply committed to the commands of The Ogre Under the Bed. Nobody but the few with immunity dared question any decision from the White House upon hearing the rattle of the chains. The Bill of Rights was shredded and the Constitution crumpled and tossed into the waste basket as Congress obediently passed the Patriot Act . All law enforcement in the country was bundled into a Department of Homeland Security and their focus was changed from one of catching crooks to catching “spooks”. If you spoke out against the policies of the administration, you might find yourself restrained from receiving a passport or prevented from boarding an airplane. The Ogre was under your bed and he was listening and waiting for you to offend!

In addition, the Holy Ghost was implicated as the President roamed the world proclaiming that he was doing The Lord’s Work. His words were accepted as the Word of God in churches throughout the land and the fear of retaliation according to the Good Book reinforced the Ogre Under the Bed. If you had not sufficient fear of the Ogre, the Devil would get you.

Eight years later, with a new President and a new spirit in the land, it was determined that the wars have reached their end and may be systematically ended. Now the people are suffering as the result of economic collapse brought on by the free-spending and the neglect of the previous administration, aso that the “spooks” that must be vanquished are of the more psychological perspective.

The Republican members of Congress are still under the spell of the Ogre as they struggle against the programs that are needed to place the nation back on the right track, to bind up the wounds of war, attend to the long-neglected workers as they lose their jobs due to the Wall Street-instigated crash, and go about the business of caring for the citizens. Only now they are “afraid” that we will not be able to pay our bills and are “worried about the future.” They seem lost and leaderless, unwilling or unable to resume their responsibilities of steering the nation without a real leader to tell them what to do.

The current President sees the world as it is rather than as it was in the middle of the last century and tries to move our gaze forward to building a better future. But first we must struggle with the Holy-Word-according-to-G-W-Bush as well as the Ogre Under the Bed. We must take off our tinfoil hats, open the closet door, and look around. The sun is shining, the future awaits and we must dust ourselves off and get to work restoring our nation and becoming, once again, a nation where the future is a promise and, together, we can resume the upward trek toward what we know that it can be.

We can place our trust in our personal God and, thus cheered, tread with a smile and a song toward that promised “Shining City on a Hill” of legend, treasuring the Brotherhood of Man. Together we can banish that Ogre of the Bush Legacy, shine the brave light of day on our fears and realize that we have been left with the greatest gift of the Bush Legacy; “Thank God it’s over!”

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

A Gathering of Vultures

As the Liberals in Congress struggle against the Party-of-No Republicans and the Blue Dog DINOs, the people in the lower economic level are being picked of the last flesh on their living bones by the circling vultures. After they have lost almost everything they possess by the too-big-to-fail banks and investment companies, bled by the co-payments for essential medical care for their children, and either lost their homes in foreclosure or have trouble paying their rent, the vultures have gathered for the last pickings.

One cannot long watch television without the realization of precisely what the aims are of the remaining ghouls that dog their tracks. First and foremost are the “easy credit” advertisements by which they are bombarded. If you get a paycheck, you can get money quick to last until then. It only costs you a “little” more than you borrow, (only an APR of a hundred or two), and you can spend on anything you want. If you own a car, bring in your title and get the same sweet deal. The commercials depict happy people enjoying the prospect of living it up on all that “Easy Cash”.

Congress is currently stuggling with the task of regulating these vultures against those who think that the poor are not sufficiently important to protect. They appear to rest secure in their opinion that those who are dumb enough to fall for those deceptions deserve to be victimized. The fact that many may be so financially strapped in this “Land of Plenty” that they have no other avenue of survival.

Another source of income to the television channels are the advertisements telling those who have won lawsuits and have judgements which are to be paid over time that they don’t have to wait for their money. They can really sell those judgements, (at discount prices, of course), and obtain a large amount of “cash now” with which they can “live it up” until it’s all gone. They do not, ever, tell how much the discount will be and how much they will collect of the proceeds for corporate profit. Often, these judgements or annuities are the only source of supplemental income available to these people and they will suffer terribly by their loss but, what the hell, it’s all “Free Enterprise”!

A third enticement, aimed the elderly, is one that I particularly find reprehensible. They dig up all the old has-beens like Pat Boone, Robert Wagner, or Peter Graves, who were the heart-throbs of our youth, to hawk the idea of “reverse mortgages” wherein they promise monthly stipends in return for signing a contract that allows them lending institutions to own your home when you die. Now, every elderly person whom I have met will tell you that they have made precise plans for whom they want to inherit from them and they will deprive themselves of essentials of life to retain their property for that purpose.

Further, this arrangement amounts to the bidding company actually wagering that you will not live very long because the more quickly you die, the more profit they will gain. Let us hope that most of these elderly have brains enough to know that, should they determine that they want to leave the old home place, that they will make more money by selling it outright, even if they themselves carry a contract for a balance. At least, they won’t have to live the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders and wondering whether their “heirs:” are becoming impatient.

(To add insult to injury, they continually remind us of our advanced years by showing us how decrepit our once-upon-a-time have gone through the same deterioration that we must deal with every day. This comment from a person who refused to attend the 60-year clas reunion because she prefers to recall the raucous friends of her youth rather than the old codgers who now creep around with canes and walkers. She prefers to remember the friends of her youth as vital and energetic as they were so long ago,)

(Note: Peter Graves has passed away since this writing and I, for one, will always remember him as the dashing and daring Mr. Phelps of “Mission Impossible” and not as the enfeebled huckster for reverse mortgages.)

As macabre as these three “vultures” may appear, there is still one that is so reprehensible that they don’t even advertise. They merely contact the elderly personally in the effort to puchase their paid-up life insurance policies. The proposal is that they will discount the amount payable on your death and give you that amount “today”. In return, they become the beneficiary of that policy and collect it only on your death. I can’t speak for anyone else but it would seem that one could never again sleep comfortably at night.

While the comfortably wealthy worship at the altar of Capitalism and engage in the preservation of Free Enterprise while resisting any regulation of banks and other lending institutions. the sheep have already been stripped of their fleece and new ways are being developed to profit from the disposal of their bones. Meanwhile, the vultures go about their work of devouring whatever value remains of their being.

Does anybody out there care? Will the Senate shape up and pass the Consumer Financial Protection Act which has been passed by the House? Or will the Republicans continue the campaign to end the Class Warfare in their usual manner, by forcing the poor back to the status of serfs in bondage to the privileged?

Stay tuned.

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

Who are the “Progressives”?


by Mary Pitt

Image courtesy of Black and WTF

When we read reports of polls, we find that the “Independents” in the United States outnumber the declarents for either of the established political parties. In discussing this, the pundits assume that this indicates that most voters are in the “middle of the road” between the Democrats and the Republicans. This is not the case. The number includes members of small established groups that have been with us for years and their views are all over the map. There are the Libertarians who are far to the right, the Green Party with their ecological agenda, and now, the Tea Party whose views are more anti-government.

Buried and out of sight are the Progressives who have no party affiliations at present but who know what they want and need. There is a Progressive wing of the Democratic Party but they are not necessarily representative of those who advocate for progress but are not yet convinced that the party, as it exists today, are truly committed to the substance of their own needs and will not deal them away in the interests of “bipartisanship.” President Obama was swept into office on a wave of support from these very people who are now waiting to see whether he can or will accomplish the promises he made to them in return.

But, who are these Progressives, these nameless, faceless people who claim to represent a majority of the populace of the United States? I am one and I will undertake the task of telling you exactly who we are.

We are the vermin of your life, We are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and every shade of every color in the palette. Very few of us are rich or even “middle-class”. We live everywhere yet we are largely unseen. We are in the long lines at the unemployment offices and at the gates to those plants that are still operating; we serve your meals, we clean up your messes, take out your garbage, and clean your toilets. We are on your streets, yet you do not see us because there is nothing about us to which to draw your attention. We neither damage your ears with loud jam-boxes nor are we using expensive cell phones into which we speak loudly so you will notice us. We are simply there.

We work in your yards and in your homes, we nurture and nourish your children so that they do not suffer your absence unduly. We are as diligent with “Yes, Ma’am”, and “No, Sir,” as those who worked in utter bondage in centuries past. We prepare the hotel rooms in which you work or vacation, making sure you have all the comforts and cleanliness that you expect. We clean your offices after you have gone home or to your recreational pursuits. We live in your slums and your low-income housing prjects, We live along the highways and the byways as you pass in your big gas-hog cars or fly over in your silvery airplanes. We grow and cook your food and clean your clothes; there is not an aspect of your life in which we are not an integral part, yet you do not see us.

We can easily be seen when we turn out to support President Obama when he appears in our area but we cannot afford to travel to attend Tea Parties and other big demonstrations. But we can be seen in huge numbers at the Free Health Clinics as they are held in larger cities offering life-saving health care for those who have been deprived of it, sometimes for years! These affairs are not covered by news agencies except, recently by MSNBC. Hundreds of medical professionals throughout an area will gather in arenas or in huge tents to dispense needed physical care to those of us who have no insurance but are deemed to be “too rich” for Medicaid or any other Federal program to be diagnosed and steered to free clinics for every complaint from new eye glasses or dental caries to life-threatening cancers.

For this reason, our principal political goal is for truly universal health care. Learning that President Obama approached this problem first by consulting Big Pharma and the heads of the insurance companies was a kick in the gut! President Clinton tried that and we still suffer from his failure. President G. W. Bush told us that we had no problem; that all we had to do was to go to the nearest Emergency Room. We’ve been there and done that! We have thereafter received the over-inflated bills and many have had our assets attached and been hounded into bankruptcy if we could not pay. We will not be doing that again!

We are the “make or break” faction who will determine whether the Democrats are allowed to continue their majority status past the next election. We will do as we have always done. We will accept the fact that, once again, we have been lied to by a politician, crawl back into the woodwork and disappear until the great day, by and by, that some other political figure might arise and convince us that they will do something about our problems.

You see, we are the sixty per cent of the population who don’t bother to turn out on election day. We are aware of our invisibilty and unconvinced that you and the others like you are so consumed by your own lives, your good jobs, your beautiful children, and your secure lives that you have no reason to care about us. We will go on doing what we do, trying to scratch out a living from our poor endeavors living as long as whatever god we believe in decrees for us, allowing you to demean us at every opportunity as the “lower class” and a “drag on society” while giving you our offspring for cannon fodder in your wars of aquisition.

Think of us as the peasants of Middle Ages France who bore the burdens of serving the “upper classes” until they could no longer bear it. For we know that we are the base for everything you treasure. We are the ones who provide your creature comforts. Without us you would have to live in an unbearable world of chaos and your own trash. When you pray, pray for us. Pray that we will continue in our firm belief in the Brotherhood of Man and that we wil continue to support you. That is because we know, though you obviously do not, that you are just like us!

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own workung-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.