Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck Civil Rights Icon?

Glenn Beck Civil Rights Icon?

My gripe with Glenn Beck has always been with his absurd attempt to claim a connection to Tom Paine.

The furiously self-promotional Fox personality wrote a book last year that he suggested was a contemporary update of Paine's pamphlet "Common Sense."

In fact, Glenn Beck's Common Sense [1] was short on Paine and long on Beck. And it failed to note the founder's canon of criticism of organized religion, concentrated wealth and know-nothing opponents of government. [2]

But, as silly as Beck's attempt to claim Paine might have been, his attempt to associate himself with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a radical critic of not just racism but of an economic system left tens of millions in poverty, would be comic if it was not so sad.

Beck and his followers say they are out to "reclaim the civil rights movement."

Reclaim it from who? Presumably the people who were involved in the civil rights movement.

As Martin Luther King III notes [3]: "My father championed free speech. He would be the first to say that those participating in Beck's rally have the right to express their views. But his dream rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry or discrimination, whether directed at race, faith, nationality, sexual orientation or political beliefs. He envisioned a world where all people would recognize one another as sisters and brothers in the human family. Throughout his life he advocated compassion for the poor, nonviolence, respect for the dignity of all people and peace for humanity.

"Although he was a profoundly religious man, my father did not claim to have an exclusionary 'plan' that laid out God's word for only one group or ideology. He marched side by side with members of every religious faith. Like Abraham Lincoln, my father did not claim that God was on his side; he prayed humbly that he was on God's side.

"He did, however, wholeheartedly embrace the "social gospel." His spiritual and intellectual mentors included the great theologians of the social gospel Walter Rauschenbush and Howard Thurman. He said that any religion that is not concerned about the poor and disadvantaged, 'the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them[,] is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.' In his 'Dream' speech, my father paraphrased the prophet Amos, saying, 'We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.'"
Beck talks in riddles and at a dog whistle like frequency only his genuflecting followers can decode. One minute he stands for everything from victory over the Japanese during WII ( by a liberal president) to being against every advance made in public policy from protecting children from sweat shop labor to Social Security. But the right worships him and Palin like gods - than tell us they think for themselves. Time for a name change that reflects the truth - wacky sheep herd instead of "conservatives".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck says he venerates Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and others -- but for a thoroughly phony reason

Glenn Beck says he venerates Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and others -- but for a thoroughly phony reason

Since announcing Saturday's "Restoring Honor" rally, Glenn Beck has steadfastly maintained that it's not a political rally.

In the promotional video "We Need Heroes," he claims, "This has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with -- who are we?" He venerates "our sacred American heroes and ideas" and proclaims that "we need a George Washington, or a Thomas Jefferson, or a Ben Franklin." Images of Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King provide a backdrop to a single word: honor.

Beck claims to be restoring not only honor, but truth: to be setting the record straight on liberal revisionist history. But his history is the most revisionist of all.

By invoking great American leaders in a call for apolitical heroism, Beck seeks to whitewash the political struggles and debates of earlier eras: to suggest that our finest leaders have always been above politics, and that to achieve their greatness, we need to rise above politics and do "the right thing."

It's certainly true that Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, King were great orators, philosophers, writers and leaders. But they were also great politicians, and to pretend otherwise is to disown the most enduring legacy of American history: that political expression, action and leadership are essential to the health of our democracy.

Benjamin Franklin was not only an eccentric, bespectacled paragon of virtue and wit, but also an active politician whose career included a stint as a speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly during which he fought the Penn family for control of the then-colony.

Thomas Jefferson was not only an eloquent writer and great philosopher, but also an ambitious political schemer. During his time as Washington’s secretary of state, Jefferson fought bitterly with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton over fiscal policy and political philosophy, even seeking, unsuccessfully, to remove Hamilton from office through accusations of corruption and ineptitude. Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, now part of the core curriculum of high school American history classes, were essentially political propaganda, the product of the fierce battles waged between Jefferson and Hamilton in the newspapers and pamphlets that constituted the chief media outlets of the day.

George Washington, however revered, was unable to bring about peace in his Cabinet, and privately worried: "I do not see how the Reins of Government are to be managed, or how the Union of the States can be much longer preserved." Washington, who disliked political parties and political maneuvering, is the only one of Beck’s heroes to whom the term "apolitical" can even remotely be applied. But still, he sided with Hamilton more often than not and feared Jefferson’s rise to power after his resignation.

Abraham Lincoln was politically ambitious, and agonized over his political defeats. He was a product of the party system and an important figure in the Whig Party first, and then the Republican Party. Lincoln used his legendary debating skills to make brilliant -- and political -- arguments against slavery and the dissolution of the Union. But his position on slavery evolved gradually in response to shifting political conditions: He initially opposed only the extension of slavery to new Western states, and only endorsed emancipation outright once he believed it necessary for the restoration of the Union.

If anything, some of the strategies used by Beck’s heroes are more troublesome than those utilized today. We would not, for example, look favorably on a politician who purchased a supportive newspaper, as Lincoln did in 1859, nor condone the appointment of sympathetic journalists to Cabinet positions, a tactic that Jefferson utilized in his struggles against Hamilton.

Finally, King, though never a candidate for office, was one of the great political organizers of American history. His legacy has largely been whitewashed since his death; he has been stripped of any hint of radicalism, controversy or political savvy to be hailed as a saintlike figure. His "I Have a Dream" speech has likewise been distilled in the public consciousness to the most nonthreatening, apolitical aspects -- images of white and black children joining hands in the spirit of brotherhood, of multicolored harmony. But previous lines speak of voting and economic mobility, of police brutality and the "marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community," of jail cells and slums. It is a politically challenging address, just as King was a politically challenging thinker and leader.

Conversely, Beck's is a sanitized, easy-to-swallow vision of political change: some people -- the Lincolns and Jeffersons of the world -- are simply right. (Never mind that some of Beck’s heroes hold conflicting beliefs.)
The Right does not do facts much less complicated personalities - many of whom were the kind of intellectual elite that modern right-wing conservatives hate.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie gives new meaning to the word hypocrite - and film-flam artist for that matter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Estimated Impact of the Stimulus Package on Employment and Economic Output

Estimated Impact of the Stimulus Package on Employment and Economic Output

CBO’s Estimates of ARRA’s Impact on Employment and Economic Output

Looking at recorded spending to date as well as estimates of the other effects of ARRA on spending and revenues, CBO has estimated the law’s impact on employment and economic output using evidence about the effects of previous similar policies on the economy and using various mathematical models that represent the workings of the economy. On that basis, CBO estimates that in the second quarter of calendar year 2010, ARRA’s policies:

* Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
* Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
* Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
* Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)
Democrats do not have to brag about how great things are - obviously the economy could be better - but they can brag about stopping the massive hemorrhaging left by the Republican management of the economy.

Are Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) now officially idiots - Dire Prediction That Drilling Moratorium Would Be Worse Than BP Oil Spill ‘Failed To Materialize’

You can tell how wrong and desperate a conservative is by the shrillness of their lies - Right-wing blogger Pamela Geller distorts Rauf lecture to falsely paint him as a terrorist sympathizer

Monday, August 23, 2010

Elite Billionaire Fascists Wage War on President Obama and America Values

Covert Operations - The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus. 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”
The fascist Koch brothers are big financial backers of the Tea Nut movement - the movement which claims it is all grassroots and has no racism in its agenda.

Social Security Turns 75: Democrats Celebrate While Tea Party Republicans Grab the Ax . Why do Republicans hate seniors, children, American workers, the disabled, people of color, gay people -OK why do Republicans just plain hate America.

Now That’s Rich

We need to pinch pennies these days. Don’t you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

....But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What — you haven’t heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I’m talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

Some background: Back in 2001, when the first set of Bush tax cuts was rammed through Congress, the legislation was written with a peculiar provision — namely, that the whole thing would expire, with tax rates reverting to 2000 levels, on the last day of 2010.

Why the cutoff date? In part, it was used to disguise the fiscal irresponsibility of the tax cuts: lopping off that last year reduced the headline cost of the cuts, because such costs are normally calculated over a 10-year period. It also allowed the Bush administration to pass the tax cuts using reconciliation — yes, the same procedure that Republicans denounced when it was used to enact health reform — while sidestepping rules designed to prevent the use of that procedure to increase long-run budget deficits.

Obviously, the idea was to go back at a later date and make those tax cuts permanent. But things didn’t go according to plan. And now the witching hour is upon us.

So what’s the choice now? The Obama administration wants to preserve those parts of the original tax cuts that mainly benefit the middle class — which is an expensive proposition in its own right — but to let those provisions benefiting only people with very high incomes expire on schedule. Republicans, with support from some conservative Democrats, want to keep the whole thing.

Besides having an addiction to serial lying, Republicans have a history of rewarding wealth for its own sake and punishing work. Punishing people who work and rewarding the elite just because they are the elite is a hallmark of fascism.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why Do Republicans Act Crazy and Lie All the Time

Two months later, Fox discovers O'Reilly was used to sell Newsmax products

Fox News and Bill O'Reilly have denied knowing until this week that right-wing website Newsmax was using an interview with O'Reilly to sell its financial schemes. But Newsmax has used O'Reilly to sell financial products for months, and Fox News' Dick Morris has shilled for various Newsmax schemes for years.
O'Reilly knows everything and is never wrong - at least according to his opinion of himself - yet here he is pleading blissful ignorance of any shady behavior.

Despite His Anti-Government Rhetoric, Gov. McDonnell’s Budget Surplus Results From Government Assistance

While most states are experiencing debilitating budget deficits, Virginia is “feeling flush” after turning a $1.8 billion deficit into a $403.2 million budget surplus at the close of the fiscal year. In a celebratory speech before the Virginia legislature Thursday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) credited higher tax revenue, state agencies’ fiscal responsibility, and serious budget cuts for the state’s ability “to balance the books.”

McDonnell’s victory tour continued with a stop on the Fox Business network to tout “fiscal prudence and conservative budgeting” as “the key” to his surplus. When enamored host Gerri Willis asked him whether Washington “could learn something from Virginia,” McDonnell replied he hoped his fiscal responsibility in Richmond “would be a model for Washington”

...McDonnell’s “prudence” would be a shining example for the federal government if he hadn’t relied on one important contributor: the federal government. According to a Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis report released this week, last year’s Recovery Act provided $2.5 billion in stimulus relief to “maintain crucial services for [Virginia] citizens” and “help close the state’s budget shortfall in 2010-2012.”
Rule One in America is that conservatives can act like the biggest lying hypocrites imaginable and get away with it simply because they are soooo... superior to everyone else.

Why do Republicans hate our freedoms - Republican Attacks on Muslims Threaten the Security of the United States, Are the Republicans terminally stupid or are they just playing the dangerous fool?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Al Gore Was Right. Fox is the Official Propoganda Wing of Conservative Extremists

Imagine if the New York Times gave $1 million to the Democratic Party

I'm sure curious what Fox News talkers like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck make of the news that their corporate bosses recently contributed $1 million to the re-election drive of Republican governors nationwide. Unfortunately we don't know what the talkers think of the stunning development because there's apparently been a news blackout inside Fox News and it appears nobody on staff is allowed to discuss the embarrassing development, let alone try to defend the actions.

Then again, maybe O'Reilly and Hannity and Beck don't want to discuss the seven-figure GOP gift because it makes a mockery of their long-standing crusade against the liberal media and how journalists are in bed with Democrats and are a corrupting influence; because news of the $1 million gift simply confirms the long-held suspicion that the Fox news talkers work for a propaganda outfit, not a news company.

So maybe they don't want to talk about the story because it will only highlight their hypocrisy. Keep in mind, as Media Matters noted yesterday, in 2008 O'Reilly himself often railed against (liberal!) NBC and bemoaned how the corporate giants used its "power and money" to play politics.

You mean, like having your bosses sign a $1 million check to a political party, Bill?

So sadly, we don't know what Fox News insiders think of the GOP largess because they're apparently not aloud to speak for themselves. (Bill has been muzzled!)

But what we do know this, if the tables of the story were turned and we learned that the New York Times had contributed $1 million to a Democratic Party re-election fund, O'Reilly would probably right now be in the 14th hour of an emergency, non-stop Times-bashing, on-air marathon on Fox News, getting periodic, late-night breathers from Beck and Hannity and anyone else at Fox News who makes a living in front of the camera.

Meaning, Fox News would declare WW III, and by nightfall I'm sure there would be a right-wing mob assembling in Times Square, marching on the newspapers' headquarters. And don't even get me started on the hysterics that would be bouncing around the right-wing blogosphere, or the hysteria Rush Limbaugh would be unleashing on the AM dial.

If the New York Times gave $1 million to the Democratic Party, there would be an unequivocal right-wing Freak-Out of the highest order. A collective meltdown that would give Brent Bozell heart palpitations.

But when Fox News bosses give a cool $1 million to the GOP, Bill O'Reilly doesn't say boo.
Fox in concert with wing-wing extremists give America it's daily dose of Prvda just as Stlain's Pravda did to the people of the soviet Union and they have the gall to call Democrats socialists. So much for honor and intergirty from conservatism - the most entrenched anti-American movement in our nation's history.

The Daily Show: You Can Build A Catholic Church Next To A Playground — But Should You? (VIDEO)

Handy Guide to Carly Fiorina's lies, bye-bye's and job killing surprises

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Republicans Claim Working Class Americans Are Lazy Thugs

Union busting: Right-wing media relentlessly attack worker representation

Media conservatives have waged a relentless war against labor unions, blaming them for a wide variety of problems and smearing them as "communists" and "thugs," among other attacks. However, experts have credited unions for establishing many of the "most fundamental and valued features of today's society" and "paving the road to the middle class for many millions of working families."
The blame game: Conservative media try to pin problems on unions

Beck says unions have "raped" police and fire fighters. On the August 4 edition of his radio program, Glenn Beck said of unions: "Look what they've done to the police and firemen. They've raped these guys. Along with politicians. Along with politicians -- raped them. The bravest among us." Beck went on to ask, "What, do you think the politicians are not in bed with the unions?"

Beck blames unions for woes of local governments and industries. On the February 25 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, Beck blamed unions for the financial woes of local governments, the auto industry, airlines, schools, the steel industry, and the textile industry. He continued: "Mr. President, until you get the unions out of this business, I don't think we have anything to talk about."

Experts credit unions for many "valued features of today's society," and greatly expanding the middle class

UC Berkeley Professor Shaiken: Labor movement "pav[ed] the road to the middle class for many millions of working families." In a June 2004 report, University of California-Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken wrote that after World War II, "the labor movement forged the link between economic growth and rising wages," helping improve working conditions for both union workers and nonunion workers. From The High Road to a Competitive Economy: A Labor Law Strategy:

In postwar America the labor movement forged the link between economic growth and rising wages, paving the road to the middle class for many millions of working families. Unions did benefit their members, but union wage and benefit gains coursed their way through the economy aiding those who did not belong as well. The result was a more vibrant economy in which strong consumer-led growth led to a virtuous circle of prosperity and jobs. At the lower end of the pay scale, unions have been particularly critical in winning decent compensation for low-skilled workers who often have had few opportunities and less hope.

Author Philip Dine: "Unions have had a lead role in establishing many of the most fundamental and valued features of today's society." In his 2008 book State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence, journalist and author Philip M. Dine wrote:

Unions have had a lead role in establishing many of the most fundamental and valued features of today's society. The eight-hour workday, five-day workweek, paid vacations, retirement and health-care benefits, safety regulations, bans on sweatshops or child labor, protections against employment discrimination, and other workplace advances now taken for granted were the result of struggles -- invariably protracted, often bloody, and sometimes even deadly -- by workers and their unions.

Labor has also played an integral part in the expansion of the middle class, a phenomenon that helped define America and that has been key to assuring its political and social stability.

Nobel laureate Krugman links "strong union movement" to "strong middle class. In a December 2007 New York Times column, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote that America's "strong middle class" and "strong union movement" were "connected":

Once upon a time, back when America had a strong middle class, it also had a strong union movement.

These two facts were connected. Unions negotiated good wages and benefits for their workers, gains that often ended up being matched even by nonunion employers. They also provided an important counterbalance to the political influence of corporations and the economic elite.
Conservatives tend to like the old plantation model for the U.S. with powerless wage slaves at the bottom doing as they're told.

GOP's Paul Ryan Doubles Down on Medicare Rationing

Republican Meg Whitman's Nutball Economic Policies Could Destroy Califorina Economy

Experts finds the Republican's policies if implemented would deepen the budget crisis, raise unemployment and cut growth

Meg Whitman's economic policies are based on a flawed understanding of the challenges California faces, and the Republican gubernatorial nominee's proposals would make the state's troubles worse, according to an open letter to Californians signed by a group of mostly Democratic economists from throughout the state.

"The evidence and theory that Whitman uses to diagnose California's problems are unscientific and an unsound basis for policy," the economists write. "As a result, her diagnosis and her proposed economic policies are both deeply flawed. If implemented, her policy proposals will deepen California's budget crisis and are likely to reduce employment and economic growth."

The letter and an 18-page report detailing their findings will be released Tuesday by the advocacy arm of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning nonprofit think tank in Washington. The professors who signed the letter are well regarded in their fields and include Kenneth Arrow, a Stanford University economist and Nobel laureate

[ ]...Reich writes that each of those suppositions is not based on fact and that Whitman relies on suspect science to overstate the problems. The study and the letter quote two economists who say that one of the studies she cites is "schlock science."

For instance, in saying that California has nearly the worst tax climate of any state in the United States, Whitman relies on a study that looked at the state's highest income taxes and failed to consider its property taxes, which tend to be lower than in other places.

When property levies are included, California's overall taxes are slightly higher than the average for all states, and during recessionary times, state taxes are lower than average, he writes.

Whitman fails to understand that the real foundation of the state's problems are the national economic downturn, the housing bubble's burst, which hit California particularly hard, and the lack of a state "rainy day" fund that can be used during downturns, Reich writes.

Reich takes issue with many of her proposals to improve the state's economic viability.

The swollen size of state government is a favorite talking point for the candidate, and she has pledged to reduce its ranks by 40,000 workers.

Reich writes that California ranks 48th out of the 50 states in the number of employees compared to population. Her plans to trim the state workforce exclude the University of California system, prison guards and police. That means the other areas — education, health, foster care, and the Department of Motor Vehicles — would see one-quarter of their ranks cut, resulting in severe tolls on state services that directly affect Californians' lives.

He says Whitman's proposal to deal with the state's $20-billion budget deficit could do the same. The candidate proposes cutting $15 billion from the budget in her first year in office and reducing taxes by billions of dollars.

"Alas, these numbers do not add up to $20 billion," he writes. "And her plan does not specify where most of the cuts will fall."

Since most of the state's general fund is spent on K-12 schools, higher education, health and human services and prisons, Reich writes that much of the cost-cutting must occur in those areas. He argues that such cuts not only would harm the state's economic recovery and reduce federal matching funds but also would harm the state's long-term productivity.

"Cuts in these programs will therefore reduce the state's potential to grow in the future," he writes.
Meg just wrote her campaign another check for $13 million. The glories of abusing democracy - being able to buy herself public office. With that kind of money she can keep the bullsh*t flying on TV and radio 24/7. You know what they say about propaganda - you have to repeat it over and over again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Republicans Spread Fannie May Rumors to Avoid Responisbility for Recession

When In Doubt, Yell "Fannie Mae"

There must be a Republican playbook circulating widely with a chapter entitled, "What to say if asked who's to blame for the foreclosure mess." Because an awful lot of Republican candidates are all suddenly yelling "Fannie Mae, Fannie Mae, Fannie Mae" whenever plunging home prices and the housing crisis comes up. John McCain runs ads trying to tie Obama to Fannie Mae, John Sununu points to his legislative agenda on these GSEs a central campaign theme in New Hampshire, and the RNC website plays up every Fannie Mae political contribution it can find (to Democrats only, of course.)

Today, almost 1 out of 10 Americans with a mortgage loan is in serious financial trouble, anywhere from a few payments behind to standing on the brink of foreclosure. And this is after several million families have already lost their homes.

So their plan seems to be to chant Fannie Mae often and loudly enough, and hope the public will get confused about who really caused this huge national calamity. It is always a good political story to just blame a bad guy who has something to do with the same topic. After all, invoking "Iraq" every time this administration talked about who attacked us on 9/11 worked pretty well for a while.

The problem is, blaming Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac for the millions of foreclosures and trillions in lost home value is just plain wrong, and in fact has the story pretty much backwards.

How did we get here? It is a complicated story, but a quick summary goes like this: When the Bush administration took office in 2001, most home borrowers got conventional ("prime") loans or they could not buy. Subprime lending was still a relatively small part of the total mortgage market. But a combination of a hands-off regulatory approach to the mortgage industry, a low interest-rate environment maintained by the Greenspan Federal Reserve, a president cheering on an "ownership society", and Wall Street firms rushing in to pool together prime and subprime loans and challenge the dominance of the existing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac home mortgage securitization system, set the stage for an explosion of higher risk lending.

Mortgage companies capitalized on pent up housing demand among many moderate income and minority borrowers. The subprime lending market soared, becoming nearly half of all new mortgage loans by 2006, and fueling huge bonuses among Wall Street investment firms like Bear Stearns.

But as has become apparent, these subprime loans were almost designed to go into default in massive numbers. Interest rates on adjustable mortgages spiked as low teaser rates rolled over and borrowers could not refinance their way out of trouble. Foreclosures started to come in waves in late 2006 and early 2007, so widespread and prevalent that the housing appreciation bubble burst, prices dropped sharply in dozens of states, and the epidemic spread.

When prices drop in a neighborhood, they don't just fall on homes with subprime loans. Everyone gets hit hard. For the first time since the Great Depression, American home values nationally fell nearly 20% since their peak, and in some places much more. Plunging prices trigger more foreclosures. The infection is still spreading even today. Even for those staying out of foreclosure, home equity has been wiped out -- and with it the equity to pay for a college education, or a new car, or to fall back on when medical bills come due.

Now, as even Wikipedia will tell you, "the term 'subprime' refers to loans that do not meet Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines." So how can Republicans point to Fannie and Freddie to lay blame when asked about the current housing crisis? Only to change the subject and point away from the inevitable outcome of pervasive underregulation.

The shoddy, even predatory mortgage lending that led first to the sub-prime meltdown, then to the national foreclosure crisis and loss of trillions of dollars in home value, was brought to American families primarily by private investment companies, not government sponsored ones.

There were plenty of laws and regulatory tools on the books which might have prevented this, if the current administration had wanted to use them. Just this past July 14th, the Federal reserve finally cracked down on "unfair, abusive or deceptive home mortgage lending practices and restricts certain other mortgage practices." Under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994, they finally prohibited practices which they had allowed for years, like making a loan without verifying a borrowers' ability to repay from income and assets apart from the home's value, or charging exorbitant prepayment fees.

Of course, many of the same Republicans today blaming it all on Fannie and Freddie stood by, or even applauded, when in 2002 the Fed rejected most of these same protections urged by many consumer groups. For example, a coalition of advocacy groups in 2001 implored the Fed to use the power of HOEPA to protect borrowers, pointing out that "access to predatory lending is not a benefit to consumers. Destructive credit is worse than no credit at all. This is evident in light of the increase in foreclosures, the disintegration of many low income and minority neighborhoods, and the erosion of the tax base of cities due to foreclosures."

Other regulators, and the Republican Congressional oversight committees charged with looking over their shoulders, sat on their hands as new and risky products were rolled out. Wall Street stampeded into the home lending market with pools of mortgage-backed securities that ratings agencies stamped blessed as AAA. The SEC did nothing to police the spread of risk.

When the Senate held oversight hearings on ratings agencies in 2006, well into the era of massive subprime securitization, Senator Sununu among others was for holding off greater oversight with statements such as " I don't see the problem as being one of a lack of regulation or need for additional regulation in the area of particular business practices as much as it is a question of a lack of competition, and I think that competition is lacking in part because there are a number of barriers to entry and one of the most significant barriers to entry are regulatory, and they're the barriers that have been created by -- unintended but have been created by some of the existing regulations and we need to look carefully at those."

To be sure, for years there has been much to criticize about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- issues with transparency, misstated earnings, aggressive lobbying, and more fundamental questions about whether the public was getting full benefit in how they carried out their mission in exchange for an implicit governmental guarantee -- and commentators across the political spectrum have raised such questions. But laying the blame at their doorstep for today's boom and bust turmoil that is devastating hundreds of previously stable communities around the country, and spreading instability worldwide through the global financial markets?

Then again, if just mentioning their names change the subject away from the Republican record of "deregulate here, deregulate now", maybe Fannie and Freddie can't be all bad.
Nothing to see here really. Republican extremists never seem to take responsibility for any of the damage they do to America - day in and day out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Moonbat Conservatives Having Cognitive Mental Problems

Conservative media advance dubious claim that Bush tax cuts drove economic recovery

Conservative media have pushed the dubious claim that the Bush tax cuts were responsible for economic recovery. In fact, economists have stated that the Bush administration's tax policies failed to make the economy grow faster and contributed to a decline in median household income.

IBD: Bush tax cuts "were responsible for the economy's recovery from the triple whammy of the 1999-2000 stock market meltdown, the Y2K debacle and the 2001 recession." In an August 6 editorial titled "The Propaganda of Incompetents," Investor's Business Daily claimed that the Bush tax cuts "were responsible for the economy's recovery from the triple whammy of the 1999-2000 stock market meltdown, the Y2K debacle and the 2001 recession."

...Economists say Bush tax cuts failed to produce substantial economic growth

Nobel laureate Krugman: "But the real source of the expansion was the housing boom, which had very little to do with the tax cut." In a January 14, 2008, blog post, economist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman wrote that "the real source of the expansion" after the 2001 recession "was the housing boom, which had very little to do with the tax cut":

There were two main Bush tax cuts -- EGTRRA, enacted in mid-2001, and JGTRRA, enacted in 2003.


EGTRRA arrived in the middle of a recession, but that was an accident. It was devised in 1999, when the economy was booming, to defend Bush's right flank against Steve Forbes. During the 2000 campaign, Bush sold it as a way of returning budget surpluses to the people, with not a hint that it had something to do with fighting recession. The recession story was an after-the-fact reinvention.

And EGTRRA didn't seem to help all that much. Formally, the recession ended in late 2001, but most labor-market indicators continued to worsen into mid-2003.

JGTRRA, which mainly cut tax rates on capital gains and dividends, was followed by a real recovery. And the Bushies naturally claimed the credit. But the real source of the expansion was the housing boom, which had very little to do with the tax cut.

Krugman: "But even now real G.D.P. is considerably lower than most people thought it would be back when President Bush was selling his tax cuts." Krugman wrote on October 18, 2005, that "[w]e had a recession followed by slow growth in the early Bush years, then faster growth after that as the economy recovered. But even now real G.D.P. is considerably lower than most people thought it would be back when President Bush was selling his tax cuts." He added: "At the end of the 1990's, people thought that the economy would grow at rates similar to those of the previous few years -- probably at more than 3 percent a year. In fact, economic growth since 2000 has averaged only about 2.5 percent, which is below expectations."

CAP paper finds that "supply-side policies failed to deliver what supply-side theory predicted" regarding wage growth. As Center for American Progress' (CAP) Matthew Yglesias has noted in response to Erickson, in a September 2008 CAP paper analyzing the impact of supply-side policy, Michael Ettlinger, Vice President for Economic Policy at American Progress, and Economic Policy Institute's John Irons wrote:

Even during the period of expansion wages were often in decline in the first supply-side period. In the second period, wages were also in decline for portions of the period, and never strong. In the post-1993 period, wages were in decline at the start but wage growth grew substantially over the period. With such dismal wage growth during supply-side periods, supply-side policies failed to deliver what supply-side theory predicted.

Tax Cuts: Myths and Realities of the Bush Years

Myth 3: The economy has grown strongly over the past several years because of the tax cuts.

“The main reason for our growing economy is that we cut taxes and left more money in the hands of families and workers and small business owners.” — President Bush, November 4, 2006
Reality: The 2001-2007 economic expansion was sub-par overall, and job and wage growth were anemic.

Members of the Administration routinely tout statistics regarding recent economic growth, then credit the President’s tax cuts with what they portray as a stellar economic performance. But as a general rule, it is difficult or impossible to infer the effect of a given tax cut from looking at a few years of economic data, simply because so many factors other than tax policy influence the economy. What the data do show clearly is that, despite major tax cuts in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006, the economy’s performance between 2001 and 2007 was from stellar.

Growth rates of GDP, investment, and other key economic indicators during the 2001-2007 expansion were below the average for other post-World War II economic expansions (see Figure 2). Growth in wages and salaries and non-residential investment was particularly slow relative to previous expansions, and, while the Administration boasts of its record on jobs, employment growth was weaker in the 2001-2007 period than in any previous post-World War II expansion. (

Median income among working-age households, meanwhile, fell during the expansion. Census data show that among households headed by someone under age 65, median income in 2006, adjusted for inflation, was $1,300 below its level during the 2001 recession. Similarly, the poverty rate and the share of Americans lacking health insurance were higher in 2006 than during the recession. (

Monday, August 9, 2010

Islamophobia is the new anti-Communism

Islamophobia is the new anti-Communism

It’s suddenly fashionable on the left to praise George W. Bush.

Granted, the praise being offered is narrow in scope, limited only to Bush’s non-inflammatory public comments on Islam in the wake of 9/11, and backhanded in nature, with his example supposedly demonstrating the failure of today’s Republicans -- with their Muslim-baiting response to the "ground zero mosque" -- to meet even a modest standard of responsibility in their own rhetoric.

But the idea behind the praise is big in scope: that, as Matthew Yglesias put it in Sunday’s Washington Post, the post-Bush GOP is engaged in an "abrupt slide toward xenophobia" that the party’s Bush era leadership rejected:

[T]he mosque controversy is not a continuation of the dynamics that started on Sept. 11, 2001, but a sharp reversal of course nine years on, one that's antithetical to the approach during the administration of President George W. Bush. Then, leading conservatives were careful to portray the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks as a targeted campaign against a minority group of murderous fanatics, not a broad cultural conflict with Islam. They appreciated that the latter approach would amount to a strategic and moral disaster.

On the surface, there’s plenty of validity to this. Bush’s insistence after 9/11 that Islam is "a religion of peace" and that those who attacked America represented the faith’s fanatical fringes does indeed have the ring of admirable maturity compared to Newt Gingrich’s cynical conflation of the 9/11 terrorists and the Islamic faith.

But let’s be honest: The difference between Bush’s GOP and Newt’s is one of window dressing only. The Republican Party of the Bush years had the same magnetic allure to Islamophobes as today’s does, even if it didn’t use quite the same inflammatory rhetoric.

It was Bush, after all, who filled his inner circle with committed neoconservatives who believed that Islam itself imperiled Western values and the long-term survival of the United States – and who embraced the neocons’ vision of a "global war on terror." Daniel Pipes, for instance, used a speech one month after 9/11 to warn of the threat posed by "the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims." Bush appointed Pipes to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

The "war on terror," in turn, cemented for Bush and the GOP the loyalties of America’s most virulent Islamophobes – many of them right-wing Christians who had long yearned for just such a confrontation between the West and Islam. Even as Bush was insisting on his "religion of peace" construction, Pat Robertson was branding Islam “an erroneous religion” and suggesting its adherents were "worse than Hitler," and Jerry Falwell was labeling the prophet Mohammed “a terrorist.”

A cynic would call this a version of good cop/bad cop, with Bush using soothing platitudes to placate moderate swing voters while his right-wing allies energized their flock by articulating the effect of his policies in blunt terms. If that was the idea, it clearly worked, given the importance of conservative Christians to Bush’s narrow 2004 reelection.
Islamophobia is the GOP's last hope. While they're trying to run on the economy, it is Republicans that crashed the economy. tax taxes for the wealthy and we'll all live happily ever after. That BS is not selling well among the adults with a good short term memory. Conservatives could try to run on "small government" platitudes, but this would be after eight years of Republicans bloating government to bigger than ever. They can't run on their national security platform because they lied and our troops died for those lies. So they're running on base instinct mixed with fear of the ominous other who is out to get us.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Lies and the Washington Post Helps

How To Read A CBO Report - Lessons for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI)

One thing that has been overwhelmingly obvious in the discussion of Paul Ryan’s roadmap is that lots of people who should know better — including, alas, reporters at the Washington Post — don’t know how to read a CBO report. They think you can just skim it and get the gist; and people like Mr. Ryan have taken advantage of that misconception.

What you need to realize is that the CBO is the servant of members of Congress, which means that if a Congressman asks it to analyze a plan under certain assumptions, it will do just that — no matter how unrealistic the assumptions may be. CBO will tell you what’s going on, but it will do so deadpan, doing nothing in terms of emphasis or placement to highlight the funny business.

So how do you spot that funny business? One way is to go through the whole thing with a fine-toothed comb. Another is to look at the estimate, and see if anything odd jumps out — then search for the sources of that oddity.

So, the key table in the CBO report on the Ryan plan (pdf) looks like this:

Look at the column for 2020, which allegedly shows a big reduction in the deficit for that year. What do we see?

Well, the Ryan plan as described is a combination of tax cuts and cuts in entitlement spending. So where does this show in the CBO estimate?

On the tax side, we immediately see that the CBO finds no effect — revenue with the Ryan plan is the same as without it. Huh? Search the report, and you find:

The proposal would make significant changes to the tax system. However, as specified by your staff, for this analysis total federal tax revenues are assumed to equal those under CBO’s alternative fiscal scenario (which is one interpretation of what it would mean to continue current fiscal policy) until they reach 19 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030, and to remain at that share of GDP thereafter.

In short, the CBO was told to disregard any possible effects of the tax cuts; that’s a pretty good way to make the plan seem affordable.

Meanwhile, what about the spending side? Entitlements reform is supposed to be the core of the plan. But for 2020, the CBO table shows slightly higher spending on Social Security, and only modest reductions in Medicare and Medicaid. The big action is a huge fall in “Other.” What’s that about?

Again, search the text and you find:

From 2010 through 2019, nondefense discretionary spending would be frozen at 2009 levels in nominal terms.

OK, that’s an old, familiar scam — it was used to inflate surplus projections back in 2001 to justify the Bush tax cuts. Keeping nominal spending constant means deep cuts in real per capita terms — about 25 percent over a decade. That’s not going to happen: nondefense discretionary spending is already at a low point as a share of GDP, and unless someone can detail how such massive further cuts are possible, they’re just blowing smoke.

And, crucially, this means that most of the alleged savings have nothing to do with the supposed core of the Ryan plan, entitlement reform; they’re just invented out of thin air.

So if you read the CBO report correctly, it actually provides no support at all for Ryan. It’s a testimony to the gullibility of DC that anyone imagines differently.
No surprise that conservatives are serving up warmed over and disguised Bushnomics as the answer to the mess they got the nation into. They say insanity is coninuing to bang your head into a wall expecting to get a different result from the last time. Republicans keep leading America down the road to disaster and expecting different results from the last time. Is is time for change - time to go forward instead of constantly going in reverse. Why do conservatives hate America.

What the Pezzi saga tells us about Breitbart

Earlier this week, we read an on-line column which provided one of the most thorough and well-researched examinations of the many controversies surrounding former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod. We asked the author of the column for permission to reprint his article. Since publishing the articles, we have been made aware of other writings from this author which do not reflect the principles and values of this site. Because of this, we have removed the articles from Big Government. While we stand by the information contained in the articles we published, we do not wish to see the underlying issue confused or diminished by other work the author has done. We regret the error. ( statement released by BigGovernment)

So, let me get this straight: After Breitbart and his "Big" websites became the focus of well-deserved criticism and national ridicule for posting a misleadingly edited video and smearing Shirley Sherrod as a racist, their defense was that Breitbart merely posted the video he was given, and he didn't bother doing any extra research. (Breitbart later conceded that the video was out of context and that he "should have waited for the full video.")

Yet in the wake of this embarrassment, Big Government sought out posts from a guy smearing Sherrod as a racist without doing any research into his background. Notice a pattern here? Breitbart and co. are so eager to cover their tracks and somehow "prove" that Sherrod is a racist that they have long-since abandoned any pretense of responsible behavior.
Pezzi was wrong and a total wacko, but Breitbart removes the article yet stands by what Pezzi said. The only people left taking Breitbart seriously are the kool-aid addicts.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Conservative John Boehner (R-OH) derides police officers and teachers as ‘special interests.’

Conservative John Boehner (R-OH) derides police officers and teachers as ‘special interests.’

Yesterday, the Senate finally overcame a Republican filibuster to approve $26 billion in funding to bolster state budgets, including $10 billion to prevent massive teacher layoffs. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that she will interrupt the House’s August recess in order to hold a session to pass the bill, instead of waiting to pass it in September. But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) slammed Pelosi’s decision to call the House back into session, calling the funding a “payoff to union bosses and liberal special interests”:

The American people don’t want more Washington ‘stimulus’ spending – especially in the form of a pay-off to union bosses and liberal special interests. This stunning display of tone-deafness comes at the expense of American workers, who will be hit by another job-killing tax hike because Washington Democrats can’t kick their addiction to more government ‘stimulus’ spending. Democrats should be listening to their constituents – who are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ – instead of scampering back to Washington to push through more special interest bailouts and job-killing tax hikes.

As the Wonk Room explained, this bill is deficit neutral, so there is no “tax hike” necessary. But more importantly, does Boehner really consider teachers, firefighters, and police officers “special interests”? Overall, the funding will save the jobs of about 300,000 workers, including about 140,000 school employees, and according to the Department of Education, 5,000 teaching jobs in Boehner’s home state of Ohio will be preserved.
Update Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released the following statement this morning: "Incredibly, the Republican Leader John Boehner disparagingly referred to those who teach our children, protect our homes, and keep our streets safe as ‘special interests.’ Washington Republicans are opposed to supporting our teachers, firefighters, and policemen at home in order to protect corporate tax loopholes that promote the export of American jobs.”
John Boehner (R-OH), a conservative pig who has made his living feeding at the public well calling police officers and teachers special interests? Maybe it is time John off the right-wing welfare, the toxic fumes are destroying brain cells.

Sharron Angle, Holy Warrior
Back in May, half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin insisted that the Founding Fathers "were quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments." But while the Founders intended no such thing, Palin's protege Sharron Angle is convinced. Just weeks after proclaiming "God has a plan" for pregnant victims of rape and incest and suggesting God is on her side, the GOP's Nevada Senate hopeful declared herself a warrior against government "idolatry" she deemed "a violation of the First Commandment."

Speaking of idolatry, maybe Angle should stop worshiping that image she sees in the mirror.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Racist Freak Out Over the "Ground Zero" Mosque by Far Right Conservatives

The Racist Freak Out Over the "Ground Zero" Mosque by Far Right Conservatives

In December, the New York Times reported that "for months," hundreds of Muslims had been gathering every Friday at an abandoned building two blocks north of the World Trade Center for prayer and readings from the Qur'an in Arabic. A group of Muslims purchased the building -- which had been damaged from debris resulting from the 9/11 attacks -- and now, led by the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Cordoba Initiative, plan to build a 15-story Islamic community center there that will include a mosque, an arts center, a workout facility, and other public spaces. ASMA founder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the project "sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11." "We want to push back against the extremists," he added. Other faith leaders offered support for the project. "[Abdul Rauf] subscribes to my credo: 'Live and let live,'" said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a spiritual leader at a nearby synagogue. "Building so close is owning the tragedy. It's a way of saying: 'This is something done by people who call themselves Muslims. We want to be here to repair the breach, as the Bible says,'" said Joan Brown Campbell, a Christian leader in New York. Despite interfaith support for the project, the idea of having a Muslim center anywhere near Ground Zero has set off right-wing outrage based in bigotry, paranoia, bias, racism, and intolerance.

RIGHT-WING FREAK OUT: In May, news of the project grew more widespread and inflamed anti-Muslim rhetoric from the right (even though there has been a mosque in the neighborhood since the 1980s). Enraged (and now disgraced) Tea Party leader Mark Williams said the site would allow Muslims to worship their "monkey-god." From there, a right-wing freak out was born. "I hope somebody blows it up," said conservative radio talk show host Michael Berry. Rush Limbaugh said that because of the project, alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed won't "have an impossible time" getting a "sympathetic jury" if he is tried in New York. The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol writes today that in order to save his presidency, President Obama should say the Islamic center is "a bad idea." Conservative blogger and executive director of "Stop Islamization of America" (SIOA) Pamela Geller said the Islamic center is a "triumphal mosque" on "conquered lands." The National Republican Trust PAC -- which has doled out funds to various Republican candidates for Congress, including Sen. John Thune (R-SD) -- recently launched an ad urging Americans to "join the fight" against the mosque project. Not making any distinction between the 9/11 terrorists and ASMA or Muslims in general, the ad says, "On Sept. 11, they declared war against us. And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero. ... That mosque is a monument to their victory and an invitation for more. A mosque at Ground Zero must not stand." Hostility to building mosques has spread across the country. In Mufreesboro, Tennessee, residents gathered to protest the construction of a mosque, while the planned construction of a mosque in Southern California is inspiring similarly fierce opposition from local conservatives.

MAINSTREAMING BIGOTRY: Republicans both in and out of Congress are attacking the project, while conservative news outlets Fox News and the Washington Times have joined the chorus. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called the proposed Islamic center "very offensive" and "wrong." Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called on "peaceful Muslims" to "refudiate" the Ground Zero mosque. And, criticizing the proposal, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich argued that the U.S. should model itself after a non-democratic country. "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia," he said, calling the ASMA and the Cordoba Initiative "hostile to our civilization." Last week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which describes itself as "fighting anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism" sided with the hate. The group acknowledged that the attacks on the project stem from "bigotry" and are "unfair," but nevertheless agreed with the extremists that a mosque should not be built near Ground Zero. "This is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right," an ADL statement said, adding, "In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain -- unnecessarily -- and that is not right."

SANITY RESPONDS: "The ADL should be ashamed of itself," said Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Time's Joe Klein noted that "[d]uring the high-tide of anti-semitism, and then again during the civil-rights movement, and often since, the Anti-Defamation League transcended its Jewish origins to stand as a courageous American voice against prejudice." But now, he said, the ADL has joined "the intolerant know-nothings" and "has sullied American Judaism's intense tradition of tolerance and inclusion. "What better ammunition to feed the Osama bin Ladens of the world and their claim of anti-Muslim bias in the United States...than to hold this proposal for a Muslim religious center to a different and tougher standard than other religious institutions would be," said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. The New America Foundation's Robert Wright agrees: "[Opposition to the mosque center] fits perfectly with his recruiting pitch -- that America has declared war on Islam." Moreover, state and city politicians and local community leaders widely support the Islamic center. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I) recently criticized the right's reaction to the project. "If we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us? Democracy is stronger than this," he said, adding, "The ability to practice your religion was one of the real reasons America was founded." Indeed, in a letter promoting religious tolerance to a Jewish community in Newport, RI, founding father George Washington said, "For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens." In fact, the FBI said that the ASMA's Abdul Rauf helped the agency reach out to Muslim communities after 9/11. "We've had positive interactions with him in the past," an agency spokesperson said. A family member of a 9/11 victim called ASMA's proposal a "bold step," and considers the plan "a noble effort."

© 2010 The Progress Report All rights reserved.

Conservatives talk a lot about freedom and the Constitution, but always seem to fail at living up to the promised freedoms and the Constitution. If conservatism was a product - and in most ways it is just a cheesy product - we could all demand a refund for false advertising.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Republicans Block Help for 9-11 Heroes

Republicans Fails to Honor, Protect 9/11 Heroes Again

For nearly nine years the 9/11 rescue workers have labored to have access to healthcare to treat the injuries sustained when they worked at ground zero on September 11, 2001, when planes slammed into the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan. And the bill that would finally have granted those sick 9/11 rescue workers some help failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

I know only four of these workers personally. And tonight I feel such shame and outrage that the only way I can express my sorrow is to let others know some of what I know and what I feel tonight. Collectively we must do something to weigh in -- our humanity demands so.

The failed bill was called the Zadroga Act, HR847, and it had 115 Congressional co-sponsors in the House. It was named for police officer James Zadroga, who died of respiratory ailments after working at ground zero.

An estimated 10,000 workers who spent time working at the site are still suffering in the aftermath of that horrific day. If we had a single-payer, Medicare for all type health system in this nation, these brave rescue workers would have had and would still have access to care.

But because many became too ill to work following their 9/11 service and many lost their health insurance benefits as a result, many went without care at just those moments when it might have made the most difference.

Ruthless individualists that we are, our system forced thousands of rescue workers to prove their disabling conditions but left them broke and battered and without income or any benefits at all as they fought either workers compensation claims or Social Security appeals. We asked them to do this while they were ill. We sure treat heroes like less than heroes, eh? None of them ever asked to see who could pay with which plans when they raced in to the towers to help, did they?

On the bright blue September morn in Manhattan, thousands of our fellow Americans ran into harm's way as the tragedy unfolded and as the rest of us sat transfixed to our television screens. We all watched in horror as those events occurred -- and most people I knew were astounded by the bravery of the rescue personnel who fought their way into the smoke and the dust and the rubble and the broken buildings and the burning bodies and everything that exploded into the air. Others ran away, covered in dust and dodging debris. Others wandered lost in the clouds of toxic mist. Close your eyes. I'll bet some image of the awful day can still flash into your own consciousness, even all these years later. It still makes me want to cry. It still packs a gut punch.

And I wasn't there. But thousands of people, thousands of our fellow Americans ran in where we could not. As we watched, they acted. As we cried, they tried. And many stayed in the mess for weeks or even months.

Right now, it doesn't really matter to me what dysfunction of our political system caused the failure -- again -- of the bill that would help the 9/11 workers still suffering. It doesn't matter to me that it was a Republican failure or a Democratic one. I don't care if it was a procedural struggle or a political charade to call one another out on unrelated, hot button issues in advance of the mid-term elections in November. It was wrong of us to forsake these amazing workers for this long, and it was wrong this week for Congress to let them down all over again.

I saw Rep. Anthony Weiner rage against the failed process, as I am sure many did. But I want to see that rage turned into getting the help these responders need. If you didn't see Rep. Weiner's comments:

Remember how we all felt about these workers in the hours and days after the buildings collapsed? Do you remember all the politicians standing with them, wrapping their arms around them and promising them that they were to be honored -- always? I remember.

The four 9/11 rescue workers I know all need some of the benefits this legislation would have given. Yet if we had a sane and just healthcare system that extended healthcare as a basic human right, we'd not be denying these rescue workers the care they so desperately need.

I met Reggie Cervantes, Billy Maher and John Graham first when we were being filmed for SiCKO, Michael Moore's 2007 film about the broken U.S. healthcare system. Two have serious respiratory issues; one serious dental problems. All struggle with varying degrees of post traumatic stress. They saw and heard and smelled and touched things on 9/11 and in the weeks and months that followed that I cannot imagine -- and am grateful I probably never will. When I asked them to tell me, they would often answer, "You don't want to know."

I met John Feal some months later. John runs the Feal Good Foundation ( and has advocated for and helped 9/11 rescue workers and families for nine years.

One time shortly after SiCKO was released when my family was hurting to pay the bills and stay afloat, John Feal helped us without question or hesitation. Another time, Billy Maher and his mom put together a care package for my family and shipped it to Denver from New York. We were rescued.

I am so ashamed today that this nation's collective memory of their sacrifice is so short and so shallow. I am sad that as a nation we have so far been too selfish and short-sighted to demand healthcare for all -- healthcare not health insurance.

And what nags at me most is the certainty that though we have failed them yet again by failing to pass this legislation or put in place a health system that would have spared them all their years of illness and many deaths is that still today I know without fail each and every one of them would still rescue me if I needed it. Every one of them would rescue you or rescue one of the Congressmen or his or her family members even in the wake of their outrageous inability to pass this bill.

Reggie, John, Billy and John, I am so sorry. We owe you our best efforts to rectify this in every and any way possible. We must call every elected official. We ought to send money to the Feel Good Foundation and help the rescue workers push onward. We ought to keep our word to you
.The same Republican who felt the need to apologize to BP said helping the victims of 9-11 was a slush fund.

The same people that did everything they could to destroy the economy, now say they have a way to rescue it. Sounds like a sick joke, but conservatives are serious - Republicans Have a Roadmap to Another Economic Disaster