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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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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.



 

A Fair and Progressive Deficit Reduction Plan

March 14, 2013
Move your mouse to scroll through this interactive collage. Click on the hotspots (+) for more information and multimedia. 





 

The Truth About Wealth Re-Distribution and Taxes

March 5, 2013
The shill politicians that represent the Republican Party today are nothing more than hollow puppets for groups like the Koch Brothers American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Grover Norquist’s group Americans For Prosperity and others that facilitate a movement of wealth. While those on the far right accuse Obama and Democrats of being socialists and wanting income re-distribution, it has already occurred. Some of us have tried to illustrate how the wealth in the United States has been flowing upwards, but you’ve never seen it illustrated like this.

Once you see this, you’ll want EVERYONE to see it. SHARE THIS WIDELY. Make sure your Republican friends and family see it, too. And then ask them how they can continue to support a party that continues to destroy the middle class for the benefit of the 1%.




What is wrong with cutting off tax payer subsidies to corporations and big banks who are making record breaking profits and not creating jobs, all the while sitting on, collectively, trillions of dollars of cash? Why are Republicans willing to sustain the culture of dependency with corporate welfare, but fighting the culture of dependency with social assistance programs?

What is wrong with closing tax loopholes that allow people and corporations to send billions of dollars offshore to avoid most, if not all, taxes? What is wrong with closing tax loopholes to companies who offshore millions of jobs or loopholes that allow corporations to set up a small office with a table and a lawn chair, calling it their corporate office in one state that has lower taxes while their real operations are in another state?

What is wrong with imposing a tax on financial transactions? Hedgefund managers make most of their money from commissions on quick financial transactions, betting against our economy, and don't have to pay a dime on taxes on those transactions. This amounts to billions of dollars.

How many Americans are aware that the $83 billion in subsidies the government gives to profitable banks is equal to the first wave of Sequester cuts?

Closing ridiculous loopholes like those listed above, and changing the tax policies on unearned income are not actually "raising" taxes, and in fact, was part of Romney's platform when he ran for President.

You might also note that taxes on the wealthy were much higher during Clinton's term and we had very few unemployment issues, and the economy soared meteorically. We all look fondly on the prosperity of the 90s but in doing so, we must also look at the effective tax rates during that period. They were considerably higher. Clinton used a combination of spending cuts AND raised taxes to give us a budget surplus.

Taxes are necessary for many reasons including maintaining our military, educating our children, helping small businesses, providing public assistance, research and development, building our roads and infrastructure, and thousands of other things.

There is plenty of spending that can be cut in this country, but we don't need to protect expensive tax loopholes that protect the wealthiest at the expense of a shrinking middle class, the working poor, the elderly, children, and the disabled.

Still don't believe it?  Read this article:
  Recovery in U.S. Is Lifting Profits, but Not Adding Jobs

 

A Message to Congress Regarding "Entitlements"

January 5, 2013
Not surprisingly, when it comes to deficit reduction and spending, the only thing the GOP mentions cutting is "entitlements"-- benefits that Americans have EARNED and have kept our elderly from sinking into the despair of poverty. Yes, health care costs are rising out of control but that is due to the for-profit factor. Republicans have long wanted to do dismantle Medicare (and Social Security) to turn it over to feed the voracious and damaging appetite of Wall St. However, neither SS nor Medicare contribute to, nor caused , the deficit.  Ronald Reagan understood this better than anyone:



One of the first things that needs to be done is to rectify Medicare Part D's drug costs. When Republicans originally came up with Medicare Part D,they forgot to fund it (along with the two wars.) Right now, Big Pharma can charge whatever they please and Medicare pays it. So one piece of legislation that needs to happen is to allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma for prices. Raising the Medicare age will accomplish nothing in terms of real savings, as younger seniors are generally healthier, yet it would be very harmful to those who are not. The provision of outcome based payments rather than per hospitalization or per test would go a long way to reducing costs.

Regarding health care costs in general, we should seriously consider going the single-payer route for all Americans (or stay insurance-based, but emulate Germany's program), which every other advanced nation has done. No other country on earth pays as much as we do for the exact same surgeries, hospitalizations or treatments. Despite what some may want to believe, these countries have better medical outcomes than we do. American no longer has the best medical care in the world. Last I checked, we ranked somewhere around 17th.

Another issue to tackle is Social Security. The best way to keep it solvent forever is to get rid of the Income Contribution cap, yet keep the cap on payouts.

There is no need to go into great detail on the next two items. Suffice it to sum it up in few words:

-End Corporate Welfare (End Subsidies to Big Oil and Big Pharma, Close Corporate Tax Loopholes, in particular, loopholes that reward the outsourcing of jobs.)
-End the War on Drugs.

Close at least 50 overseas bases that have been around since WW2 and have long outlived their usefulness other than to support the foreign economy in which they are situated. Stop insisting on building jets the military has said they do not want.

We now spend more on defense than any other nation in the world...combined. If we cut our military budget in half, we would still be spending more than twice as much on our military than China does. It is any wonder, then, that we are losing our prosperity to China? Let us get out of the middle east. We simply cannot afford to continue to be the policemen of the world. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words (and hundreds of billions of dollars):


Expect corporate owned politicians to do everything they can to blame, and attempt to raid, the Earned Benefits ("entitlements") of the American people, when the real problem lies with allowing corporations (economic power) to determine our fiscal policies. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders, not the American people, and will only further hurt us all in the long run. Despite the claims that we have the "highest corporate tax rate in the world", the truth is that the most profitable corporations have been paying ZERO corporate tax rates for years (and some less than that, due to receiving government subsidies), while others have paid, at most, 14%.

We need to think long-term. More than merely focusing on cuts,  we still need to focus on the issue of bringing jobs back to America (which includes protecting American patents and and a more favorable trade agreement for the U.S.), raising the minimum wage, and investing in education and infrastructure so we can once again become an economic global leader. If we do these things, as well as the suggestions mentioned above, we will bring in more revenue and the deficit will eventually resolve itself. 

The growing income disparity in our nation is one of the biggest threats to a full economic recovery. Never forget for a minute that a strong middle class is the engine of our economy.

 

Hooray! Assault Weapons!

December 16, 2012
This video was made shortly after the Aurora, CO theater shootings. Apparently, we have learned nothing.

However, if you have finally had enough after the deaths of 20 innocent children in Newton, CT, sign this White House Petition which represents a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion regarding gun control.