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Your World Beyond The Sound Bytes

  We are all citizens of the world...stay informed!
Look to this blog to bring you occasional, eclectic news, videos and viewpoints you might not otherwise be exposed to.
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Republican-controlled Senate Amounts To an Economic War on Women

October 31, 2014


Robert Reich is an American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton  from 1993 to 1997.

Reich is currently Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University. He has also been a contributing editor of The New Republic, The American Prospect (also chairman and founding editor), Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.


 

A Rare Win for The Women of Texas

October 15, 2014

Nation’s Highest Court Reinstates Injunction Blocking Texas Law that Shuttered Nearly All Abortion Clinics in the State

10.14.14 - (PRESS RELEASE)  In a 6-3 order, the U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated an injunction blocking a far-reaching Texas law that had forced all but eight reproductive health care clinics in the state to close their doors.  Today’s ruling allows clinics previously shuttered to reopen their doors and offer abortion services while the case is heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
 
Said Nancy Northuppresident and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The U.S. Supreme Court gave Texas women a tremendous victory today. Tomorrow, thirteen clinics across the state will be allowed to reopen and provide women with safe and legal abortion care in their own communities.
 
 “This fight against Texas’ sham abortion law is not over. HB2 was designed to gut the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade and half of the state’s clinics remain closed. We will continue this legal battle until the rights of Texas women are restored.”

Read the rest HERE.

For more information watch the following video report, via Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. 

 

Legalized Theft by the Police: Civil Forfeiture explained by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight

October 7, 2014
Are you mad yet? You should be.



Suggested Reading:
  Stop and seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes



 

Why We Are Losing The American Dream

October 3, 2014
Republican policies do not work. We have tried them every which way and they fail each time. They didn’t work just before the Great Depression. They didn't work under the Bush administration which caused the Great Recession. They are failing in  states with Republican governers such as Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Jersey who have slashed taxes for the wealthy and corporations and are now in deep financial trouble. The problem isn't that these governors failed to implement their promises of tax cutting, union busting and budget slashing, all in the name of economic recovery; some did all three. The problem is that those policies have failed to deliver the improving jobs and incomes that were supposed to flow from "conservative" governance. In fact, excessive and imbalanced tax cuts- skewed to benefit the wealthy-, resulted in lowered state credit ratings, bottom of the barrel job growth and ruined state budgets. These are like a microcosm for the country. We are supposed to be shocked because it proved to be a failing policy at the state level? 

Texas seems like an economic outlier, at least on the surface, but if one looks deeper there is more to it than meets the eye. Texas has the advantage of large oil/gas reserves accompanied by federal subsidies to support the industry, lots of cheap open land, ports (mostly paid for by the federal government at a time they acknowledged the importance of infrastructure), and huge DOD funding for bases and various defense projects. Texas is the giant, sucking, welfare state of the country. Take away the federal subsidies and Texas would look quite different.  Even many of the recent jobs "created" in Texas are not created. They are simply stolen from other states as the Texas Governor gifts corporations better tax deals (meaning that the average Texan must take up the slack in their own local, sales and property taxes). As a "bonus", these relocated jobs pay their employees less and have reduced or no benefits. and no job security --Texas being a "right to work" state-- (plus less safety regulations for employees and the surrounding communities). Things in Texas are far from as giddy and grand as perceived. Like the other states mentioned above, economic benefits are only being seen by a few. Meanwhile, education/health services, social supports, etc., continue to be slashed despite the growing need. Due to the decrease in revenue income from corporations, wannabe Governor/current Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is spending millions fighting the federal government due to Texas' unconstitutional legislation to cut public education funds by $5.4 Billion!  All of the economic gains are going straight to the rich and Texas families are suffering as a result.

To those of you who want to send Republican Senators to represent you and who want to implement those same policies, Spoiler alert: it won't work. It has never worked. It is time the country grew up and accepted the responsibility for putting these sponsored hacks into office.

If you vote for small government, that translates into voting for less regulations on the entities who want to make it easier to prey upon you and harder for you to get justice when they do. If you vote for trickledown economics and haven’t been trickled on after all these years, you may be part of the problem. You also are responsible for the terrible wealth gap and the stagnating wages, the slipping middle class in this country, environmental destruction, and a depressing legacy for our children. 

Turns out when you give all the money/tax breaks to the wealthy, corporations, and investor class, by golly they keep it for themselves. If we haven’t figured that out by now…

--ghhshirley

Suggested Reading:

Kansas Has Become a Conservative Republican Hell
 

and

 Inside The Koch Brothers Toxic Empire


 

President Obama on Meet the Press, Sunday, Sept. 7th

September 8, 2014

 

The Corporate Commandments

July 8, 2014


In case you have not been keeping up, last Tuesday the Supreme Court expanded their ruling to include ALL forms of birth control. On Thursday, the Supreme Court allowed cases to be revisited where certain Christian entities complained that even filing a form that they would not provide such coverage due to religious objections was a "burden". (Nevermind the fact that having to get a permission slip from your boss for basic healthcare is an insult to women).  However, President Obama punked them all.  Check THIS out!
 

I See Pitchforks

June 29, 2014
This is a MUST Read from a .01%er.


"At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast...The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last."

Read the article in full at
Politico.

 

UPDATE: Texas Democratic Convention

June 29, 2014
HERE is a a draft of the platform of the Democratic Party of Texas.  

Below is the video that I spoke of in my previous post that was shown at the convention before Senator Van de Putte took the stage.




 

Texas Democratic Convention

June 28, 2014
A few pics from the Texas Democratic Convention I attended, which took place on 6/27/14. When we first arrived, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro was speaking. No pics because we were too busy watching his speech and the next few who followed him, while looking for our seats. He was followed by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Trey Martinez Fisher. The latter gave an absolutely rousing speech (about a quarter of it in Spanish, the rest in English and he said different things in each language. Since I am fairly fluent in Spanish, I translated in my daughter's ear). Same thing with some of what Senator Van de Putte said, although she stuck mainly to English.  Truly magnificent!  One of the funniest parts of the night is when they showed a video of Senator Van de Putte with her large extended family, in the kitchen while she was talking about how Texas Republicans have chopped everything that helps hard working Texans and their children. As she was saying this in the video, she was chopping up a whole roasted turkey with a huge butcher knife, and by the end she was tearing it apart with her hands, LOL!  Talk about a great visual!  The crowd was howling with laughter, in a good way.

Leticia Van de Putte was introduced by a woman who served in the military. 

Wendy Davis was introduced by her two daughters. 


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Yours truly, with a Wendy Davis sign


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Senator Leticia Van de Putte, me, and my daughter, at the TX Democratic Convention, 6/27/14. She is currently running for Lt. Governor.
At what point must a female Senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?” asked State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte on the night of Wendy Davis' infamous filibuster, one year ago this month.  I was in the gallery in the Austin Capitol when she spoke those words.



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Senator Wendy Davis (running for TX Governor), standing in front of the man in the suit, at the convention.  I took a pic with her, but it came out all blurry. :-(
However, we did have a lengthy conversation!


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Crowd shot.


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Crowd on their feet.


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Wide shot, crowd, TX Dem Convention, 6/27/14. These pics don't do the crowd justice, 3/4's of the crowd were behind me from this vantage point. The hall was packed.

One other thing I must mention.  I was conversing with a woman in a wheel chair when I happened to look down and noticed her footwear. Guess what she was wearing? Yep, Wendy Davis' pink running shoes.  Even though this gracious, quick witted lady could not physically stand, she was Standing With Wendy in every way that mattered. (Just wanted to give her a shout-out.)




 

7.1 Million and Counting!

April 1, 2014
Today marks a historic day. President Obama's Affordable Care Act enrollment goals have been met and surpassed.  Below, watch his remarks.  Be sure to move the video's cursor to the 10:50 mark where he begins speaking.

For a more detailed analysis of the impacts of the ACA, go HERE, and check other parts of that site too!




 

THIS Is Why I Support Wendy Davis As The Next Governor of Texas

January 29, 2014


 

The War On Social Security & Medicare Exposed

November 5, 2013
Sign this Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-dismantling-social-1 from Senator Bernie Sanders to stop dismantling Social Security and Medicare.




 

Renewed Showdown over Texas Anti-Choice Law Highlights State-by-State Battle for Abortion Access

October 30, 2013
A legal battle is being waged in Texas over the controversial new anti-choice law that inspired a people’s filibuster over the summer. This week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (who is also running for Governor) has asked a federal appeals court judge to immediately reinstate a key part of the new law a day after it was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court judge.

On Monday, that lower court judge, District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down the provision requiring onerous hospital admitting privileges for abortion doctors. But Yeakel upheld another provision of the law that requires doctors to use a specific protocol for non-surgical, pill-induced abortions — a protocol even the judge himself acknowledged is "assuredly more imposing" and "clearly more burdensome" to women. That provision, and the law’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization, both went into effect on Tuesday.

Texas currently is currently awaiting the decision of the 5th Circuit court on whether or not to grant Abbott's "emergency appeal" for reinstatement of the admitting privileges requirement.

See the video below for a discussion of the impact of the Texas law and the national landscape of abortion access.


UPDATE: The 5th Circuit overturned the lower court, reinstating the restrictive abortion legislation. Women's health advocates have now filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court.




 

The Koch Brother's War On America

October 20, 2013
Over the past 30-some years, the Koch Brothers have poured more than 100 million dollars into a sprawling network of foundations, think tanks, front groups, advocacy organizations, lobbyists and Republican lawmakers, all to the glory of their hard-core libertarian/hard right agenda. They oppose not just so-called "big" government, but government, period. This includes taxes, environmental protections, safety-net programs, social security, healthcare, worker protections, public education, basically the whole enchilada.

The Koch's tend to think of elected politicians as merely "actors playing out a script," with themselves as supplying "the themes and words for the scripts."

The brothers were early backers, some say the puppet masters, of the Tea Party movement, and when the tea-infused Republicans retook the House in the famous midterm elections of 2010, it was due to the script and echo chamber provided by Koch money.

You owe it to yourself to set aside approximately two hours of your time to watch the following documentary below, "Koch Brothers Exposed", in full. Among other things, the film recounts how the brothers have:

 • helped fund efforts to undo a model diversity policy in the Wake County school system in North Carolina, effectively resegregating the district – part of a larger campaign to weaken the public school system and prepare the way for widespread privatization;

• pushed voter ID laws – purportedly aimed at combating (non-existent) ballot fraud but really designed to keep Democrats from voting – through their financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an increasingly radioactive business group specializing in the drafting of corporate-friendly pick-up-and-pass legislation for state lawmakers.

• pumped millions of dollars into more than 150 colleges and university in exchange for control over hiring and curriculum decisions, to ensure students will be indoctrinated into the free-market fundamentalism of Ayn Rand, Freidrich von Hayek and like minds;

• bankrolled a coordinated campaign to swing public opinion in favor of privatizing Social Security, deploying Koch-funded think tanks, experts, news pundits and politicians to spread the myth that the program is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Which of course gets at the basic problem – the gigantic power of money in American politics makes a joke of our democratic process. And, for sure, without ever touching the subject directly, the film makes a powerful case for campaign finance reform, by showing the malign sway a couple of rich guys with radical views can have over millions of lives, without Americans ever being aware of how they are being manipulated.

Keep in mind that the Koch Brothers are not the only billionaires who are using their vast wealth to undermine the American middle class, endangering and impacting lives for the sake of their own bottom lines. Please take the time to watch this, it is time well spent. Hopefully the next time you watch, listen to or read the news, see a political commercial, listen to a politician's speech, or behold the antics of Congress, you will do so with more discerning eyes and ears.





 

Get Ready for Obamacare: Health Insurance Changes Coming Your Way Under the Affordable Care Act

August 29, 2013


 

Once Upon a Time...This was a Prosperous Nation

August 10, 2013


 

Republican/Koch Brothers Ideas For "Fixing" the Economy

August 2, 2013



1. More tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations with no strings attached.

2. Increase Corporate Welfare (but disguise it under another name so the "little people" don't catch on). Offshore as many profits as possible, jobs too.

3. Regulate all Uteruses via nation-wide or state by state Forced-Birth (anti-choice) Mandates. Ignore babies after birth until we can put them to use (we need more cannon-fodder for our next for-profit war. The grown children of the uneducated make ripe pickings for the military and a cheap labor force). Keep Women Pumping out Babies so they can't compete with men in the workforce  If women do manage to get jobs that men have, be sure to pay them 80% of what a man would make, preferably less. Have to keep those uppity women in their place. Bash women over the head with religion if necessary to remind them they should be submissive to men. By the way, woman, where is my dinner? 
http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/23/state-by-state-proof-of-the-gop-war-on-women-and-why-their-bills-should-be-defeated/

4. Eliminate the Minimum Wage and worker protections.
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/07/10/2280101/charles-koch-minimum-wage/
and
http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/08/02/2404301/36-senators-introduce-bill-prohibiting-virtually-any-new-federal-law-helping-workers/

5. Increase Military Spending to the benefit of Defense Contractors, whether the Pentagon wants it or not.

6. Eliminate all social assistance programs for the temporarily unemployed, women, children, disabled and the elderly. Heck, they are invisible to us anyway, who cares? "Let them eat cake"...or something.

7. Eliminate Social Security and Medicare. Instead, encourage people to invest in the stock market so Wall St. hedgefund managers and venture capitalists (aka vultures) can make a hefty profit and and tax-free bonuses, while the elderly risk losing their life savings. If they do lose it because of our irresponsibility, at that point they will be useless to us, let them die.

     7a. Do nothing to regulate Big Banks or Wall Street to prevent another Great Recession. Sure, lots of folks lost their shirts and homes, but hey, we Wall St folks are booming now AND we always have our golden parachutes! Fight the re-enactment of the much too sensible Glass-Steagall law at all costs.

8. Eliminate/Raid corporate and government pensions whenever possible. It cuts into profits and we simply must have yet another yacht/jet/island/mansion/politician/news organization, etc to buy. Destroy unions, it interferes with that slave labor thing we love so much.
http://www.alternet.org/economy/illinois-pension-attack-collusion?paging=off

9. Deregulate industry, especially in terms of worker and consumer safety and protections, and environmental concerns. Cut funding to or eliminate government oversight of industry. Change the laws so people and communities harmed cannot sue the corporations responsible. 

10. Build more prisons, preferably private for-profit. After all, the U.S. already has the highest incarcerated population in the world. Can't ruin that gleaming record now, can we? Besides, it gives us somewhere to house all those pesky poor, minority and mentally ill people when we trip over them on the sidewalk.

11. Keep undocumented immigrants undocumented. Otherwise we might have to pay them reasonable wages to pick our fruits, vegetables, mow our lawns, build our homes (especially in Texas, thats how we keep housing prices so low) nanny our children or clean our homes.

12. Cut funding to, or eliminate public education. Get actual science out of the public classroom and revise history to one more suitable to creating a slave wage labor class and informing students that slavery was a good thing. Never teach sex education (see Number 3, above). Keep higher education expensive and student loan interests rates high for the masses. We only want our rich children educated so they can carry on our "traditional values" of extortion and ruling over the "lesser than".
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/tea-party-tennessee-textbooks-slavery_n_1224157.html

13. Make sure that minorities, the poor, and white middle class Democrats can't vote. If they do succeed in voting, make sure their votes don't count by gerrymandering districts. If that doesn't work, deny them healthcare so they will be to sick to go to the polls.
http://billmoyers.com/2013/07/30/north-carolina-passes-the-countrys-worst-voter-suppression-law/

14. Keep pumping out Goebbels-like misinformation and promote distrust, hatred, paranoia and anger--stoke the "us vs them mentality". Use charismatic politicians, preachers, and talking heads to push this mindset. Always blame the victims of our policies.  Manufacture scandals and when they are proven false, double down and claim there is a conspiracy afoot. Confuse people into thinking we are pushing liberty when we are really promoting fascism and plutocracy. Do all this while carrying a cross and wrapped in the flag. Keep it all at a 4th grade level. In order to spread this far and wide, buy up as much of the media and politicians as possible.
~~

(Sign this petition to keep the Koch Brothers from buying Tribune Newspapers!)
http://act.freepress.net/sign/koch/


 

Great Video from Monday, July 1st, Stand With Texas Women Rally in Austin

July 4, 2013
The fight to maintain women's reproductive rights is going on all across the country. Choice over our own private, healthcare decisions is being slowly chipped away by Republican dominated state legislatures, often under the cloak of night or attached to unrelated bills (the latest being in Ohio and North Carolina).  Find out what is going on in your state and get involved, before it is too late.



 

Meet Scott Prouty, the 47 Percent Video Source

March 14, 2013
In this series of video clips, we finally meet Scott Prouty, the man who secretly taped Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser. Be sure to watch all the clips, as the interview gets better as it goes along.  Prouty is an average, hardworking, thoughtful American who changed the course of an election.  Click next as each segment ends.  You will be glad you did.