Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

All comments welcome, pro or con. Passionate ok, but let's be civil. ...Pertinent comments will be published on this blog. Air your viewpoints.


Skyline - Houston, Texas

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

704,000 People Homeless

That figure is low. If you read the article, it expresses my first thought. "What about the people who don't seek shelter? They're homeless too". According to the article, they're not included in the total. It would be much higher if they were but they live under the radar and aren't easy to track.

I've worked most of my adult life and I'm here to tell you that for most of it I was one or two paychecks away from homelessness myself. Now that I'm retired and raising the girls, that hasn't changed. We live payday to payday and get to hear morons like Johnny Appleseed tell us what leeches we are.

I have a suggestion for my blogging partners. We could start a new blog consisting of excerpts from our hate mail. On second thought, that would give them far more attention than they deserve.

I'll just consider the source and ignore it.

Here are a couple of articles from USA Today regarding homelessness. The first is a breakdown of the numbers.

704,000 sought shelter

19% are veterans

65% of the adults are men

23% are children, half of whom are younger than 5

45% are blacks

Source: Department of Housing and Urban


And here is the main article. Click on the post title (I haven't done that in a while) to read the entire page of USA Today.

HUD gets new view of who's homeless

A groundbreaking survey of homelessness being released today found that 704,000 people nationwide sought shelter at least once in a three-month period.

Families with children accounted for one-third of those seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing between February and April 2005, the most recent period studied, according to the report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The rest were individuals, mostly adult men. Nearly half were black.

The count covered only those seeking shelter, not people living on the street, so the total number of homeless people would be higher.

"This first-of-its-kind study is a huge leap forward in our understanding of not only how many people are homeless, but also what their needs are," HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson says. The report says, for example, that at least a quarter are disabled.

HUD, which briefed USA TODAY on the report Monday, says it is the most comprehensive government estimate ever of homelessness. Previous counts looked only at the number of people homeless on a given day or week.

The three-month figure � equal to the population of South Dakota � is an estimate based on a sample of 80 communities. It will serve as a baseline for annual reports to Congress and may be expanded to include people living on the street.

Martha Burt, a homelessness scholar at the Urban Institute, says the new database has shortcomings. For example, it has limited information about the health of those seeking shelter, and she thinks future versions will have trouble tracking those living on the street.

HUD's report also cites a previously reported one-night survey of hundreds of communities in January 2005. That survey found 754,000 homeless people, including 45% who were living on the street. USA TODAY published its own estimate of 727,000 in October 2005, based on earlier tallies.

The three-month count found that on an average day, 335,000 people sought shelter, but more than twice that number sought shelter at least once during the entire period.

Dennis Culhane, a professor of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania who co-wrote the HUD report, says it's unclear whether homelessness has increased or declined, because past estimates were done differently.

He says poverty among blacks, who are more likely to live in urban areas, runs deeper than for other groups.

Culhane says families with kids have remained a steady one-third of the homeless, and he says government needs to do more to provide housing, such as expanding rent subsidies.

One of every three homeless kids has a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, such as post-traumatic stress, by age 8, says Ellen Bassuk, a psychiatrist who is president of the National Center on Family Homelessness.

"They have trouble sitting still and learning in school," she says.

Nine of 10 homeless mothers have been victims of violence, often domestic, she says.

Michael Stoops, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless welcomes the new count but says more housing and shelters are needed as well as a focus on the root causes of the problem. He says homelessness "can happen to everyone."

Labels: , , ,

Worried is on a rant again!

Some jerkwads yanked her chain and got her all riled up. She pulled another all dayer and all nighter. Dang me if she hasn't written some LONG posts!! But what she says is things that need to be said and addressed. She gets her dander up about some of the rotten states in the US and the world, but when it comes to neglect and bad treatment of kids she really goes into orbit. It drives her up the wall for anybody to be hungry or do without medical care, especially kids. As an old wore out broken down nurse she is really touchy about medical care and good nutrition.

Any time she calls me at 6 am, I know I'm in for a rant. You lucked out this time Granny. She vented on me, not you. I let her blow off steam then clicked over and read her blog. It was kind of piecemeal read as she kept yanking it back to edit post page to add or change something. But I waded through it all. If I can do it, so can you guys.

After she worked so hard researching and writing, somebody darn well better read it! Now I've got to write an email to that johnny appleseed. Oh Boy! First time she's ever let anyone get the address of one of those emails. Whee! This is gonna be fun!

Hunger and Poverty- A National Disgrace

Children. Our most precious resource. Our future. The future of the world. The future of our species.

[I spent from 9:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. researching statistics on child hunger, child poverty, and health- uninsured children. In six hours of searching I became frustrated, annoyed, and then puzzled because of all the innumerable sites I researched on each subject, I could find no stats more recent than 1996! Oddly enough I found no stats on children who had no health insurance. They may be out there but I did not find them. I know there are more recent stats on each subject because I have read them in my newsies. Unfortunately I did not keep those news articles. If anyone finds more recent stats, please either post them on comments or email me. Thank you. WA] [Later: I FINALLY found a few updated sites.WA]

The suffering of children from hunger, poverty and deprivation of health care is the primary focus here but it also applies to adults.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Bread for the World
Seeking Justice
Ending Hunger

Stats on US Children Hungry;

35. million people hungry
12.4 million children hungry
More than 1 in 10 households in US hungry = 11% (update Jan 2007 - click on url for complete article)

Child Hunger in a Land of Abundance Makes us All Poor

Homeless and Hungry

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Child Poverty in Rich Countries (including the US) For complete article, click on url.
The child poverty rate in the US has steadily risen every year from 2000, according to several recent reports and press releases from public policy institutes and government agencies.

Child Poverty in Rich Countries, 2005, a report by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, provides a comparative assessment of the conditions facing poor children in industrialized nations, primarily in Europe but also including the US.

The study begins with this assertion: “Protecting children from the sharpest edges of poverty during their years of growth and formation is both the mark of a civilized society and a means of addressing some of the evident problems that affect the quality of life in the economically developed nations.” By this standard, the US has the dishonor of being one of the most UNCIVILIZED of the major industrialized countries. [ emphasis mine. WA]

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Many thousands of American children who live in poverty have no health insurance. Today, even more who live above the poverty level, even middle class, either have no health insurance or are underinsured. If Bush's cuts to Medicaid and other health programs are approved, there will be yet more without health coverage. This is a national disgrace. Even small European countries have better rating for child health care than America does.

Hearts and Minds: Children in Poverty for complete article, click on url.
Poverty's Effect on Children
According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September 1996, 13.8% of Americans live in poverty. Many more are on the borderline. [ Old stats, but they have increased since 2006. WA]

Poverty affects all ages, but an astonishing 48% percent of its victims are children: About 15 million children -- one out of every four -- live below the official poverty line.

22% of Americans under the age of 18 -- and 25% under age 12 -- are hungry or at the risk of being hungry.

Everyday 2,660 children are born into poverty; 27 die every day because of it.

Children and families are the fastest growing group in the homeless population, representing 40% of the homeless.
Stats on percentage of homeless are veterans, and it is a rapidly growing problem, and hunger stalks the homeless: Homeless Veterans;

Excerpt: Homeless Veterans
Overview of Homelessness
About one-third of the adult homeless population have served their country in the Armed Services. On any given day, as many as 200,000 veterans (male and female) are living on the streets or in shelters, and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Many other veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends, and dismal living conditions in cheap hotels or in overcrowded or substandard housing.

Almost all homeless veterans are male (about three percent are women), the vast majority are single, and most come from poor, disadvantaged backgrounds. Homeless veterans tend to be older and more educated than homeless non-veterans. But similar to the general population of homeless adult males, about 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) slightly more than 70% suffer from alcohol or other drug abuse problems. Roughly 56% are African American or Hispanic.
VHA Programs Home Page [This is from a government site. Although they concur that 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, they blandly deny it is from PTSD. FIE!! Mental disorders, like PTSD, often contribute to alcoholism and drug usage as they attempt to self-medicate and stem their emotional and mental pain. WA . FIE again!]

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Causes of poverty ( Global. Old stats - 2004 - but the same causes exist today. Article too long for a post but please scan the most pertinent causative factors.WA)


Reducing Poverty (Global. Please scroll down to paragraph: "Critical Investments for Poverty Reduction"WA)

Mapping Poverty and Other MDG Indicators

Click here for animation >> Then click on tabs for more information.

The "civilized" industrial nations are not represented here. Why is there no data available? Is this supposed to indicate that there is no poverty stricken, hungry, or health care deprived people in these countries? Statistics prove otherwise.The US, Canada, the British Isles, Scandinavian countries, and Australia surely have stats!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Addendum to post below, "20 years of heartbreak..."

I have mentioned on this blog my little group of pet emailing lurkers- people who do not comment but email me instead. Some are positive and some are negative. I do not know if they do not have blogs so are unable to comment ( I have "only registered..." enabled for comments) or if they wish to hide their identities. I have always respected their privacy and have never posted their addresses, even though some have shown no respect for me.

A copy in today's email:

"Johnny appleseed" Add to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
Boohoohoo poor whiner!
Tue, 27 Feb 2007 16:51:15 -0600

What a crock of crap about your daughter and "baby". Everybody knows
dead beats like her can get on welfare and every other bloodsucking
drain on
the working class. She is just too lazy to work and wants everybody to
sorry for her. She probably drives a welfare cadillac and gets by
than us poor working stiffs. Your just trying to make the president
look bad
for cutting off some of the "benefits" these parasites get. I applaude
efforts to be fair to us that work for a living. So spare me the
tears. Your a liar.
Johnny appleseed (undoubtedly a pseudonym) displays an abysmal ignorance of the reality of hard core poverty. Yes, there are the abusers of the system who do milk the taxpayers for benefits. But many of the poor truly cannot help their lot in life and many fall between the cracks when trying to get aid.

I publish this young man's email to demonstrate the attitude of many Americans. I have heard and/or been told that "all those people have to do is get off their dead asses and get a job". Getting a job that pays a living wage is not easy for some people, and just try to support a family on minimum wage. I have heard that recipients of benefits are just lazy, dead beats, sorry no good trash and, like Johnny says in his email, bloodsuckers.

The fundies (and Bush) assert that God blesses the good with wealth and curses the bad with poverty, so that the plight of the poor is their own fault for being such sinners. They also assert that recipients of benefits are thieves, stealing from the wealthy or working class. I rather doubt that the wealthy pay much towards the benefits, especially with all the tax breaks Bush has given them. It is the hardworking middle class that contributes the greatest amount to the government coffers. However, the fundies believe that the monies paid to recipients has been stolen from the "haves" and that they have no right to the money spent on them.

They claim to be Christians but apparently cherry pick the scriptures as they desire and interpret them as it benefits them. The scriptures admonish the faithful (churches) to care for the widows and orphans (the poor) and to help the sick and crippled. During the era the scriptures were written, there were no government programs to help the needy; taxes went to the crown for other uses. Plus the fact the populations were smaller. The poor begged, some stole, to survive, some sold themselves or their children into slavery, and some died. The writers of the scriptures could not possibly have foreseen the huge nations and populations of today so advised the members of the churches to help their needy neighbors. Obviously the churches cannot generate sufficient income to support all the poor of today. (Seizing some of Pat Robertson's fortunes might help a little).

So we come to more cherry picking and to "faith based initiatives". Since the scriptures say for the churches to provide aid to the needy, their goal is to eventually place all benefit programs in the hands of the churches to administer. Isn't that what the scriptures say to do? But is it expected that the churches (fundies, ofcourse) finance the programs? Ofcourse not. You taxpayers will continue to do that, except the government funds will be turned over to the churches to dole out as they see fit. Judging from the track record of the "faith based initiatives" so far wherein the churches were given aid funds to administer in Africa and other third world countries, we can surmise what kind of aid the people would receive. Meanwhile, over the past few years, Bush has repeatedly and usually stealthily pared down and pared down the benefits for the poor. I suppose he and the neocons need more funds to spend on the projected 75 year long war against terrorism - read that world conquest.

I knew a little about the system because my eldest child had to draw benefits. She had 3 myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) during her 30s and the onset of a number of debilitating conditions. She worked when she was able but often could not work. I supported her and her 4 children for a number of years until my husband put his foot down and said "No more!", at which time she went on public assistance. Still, I was quite ignorant of the real state of affairs, as most people of our socio-economic class were. Not until my husband transferred all our assets to a foreign country, abandoned me for a younger woman, I was left virtually destitute and had to enter the system myself did I learn what it was like from the inside out.

These past ten years have been an eye opener and gave me a much better understanding of the poor. Consequently, the Johnnys of the world can be no more rabid than I about the abusers of the system who take benefits that should go to the truly needy. I am not a violent person but I want to slap their jaws when I hear them chortle, "it's free! it's free!" No, dammit, it isn't free! The taxpayers pay for it. Where in blazes do they think the government gets the money?

So what do the poor do when the government reduces and reduces the benefits? To make it look good, there will be small additions in the budget and large cuts of other benefits.

For another view of how the Bush administration dumps more of the burden on the states and what happens to the people who need a little assistance, check out Granny's post "Health Care" at . You all know Granny. She is a great grandmother rearing and supporting her 3 great grand daughters, one of whom is somewhat handicapped; her husband is chronically ill, on medications and often hospitalized, her daughter is terminally ill with cancer. How are they going to make it under the new rules? I'm sure that Granny would like a positive answer and solution to that question. My former daughter-in-law would like the same.

The government has set guidelines and criteria for people to meet in order to qualify for aid. However, much is dependent upon the local authorities who administer the programs, how they interpret the rules , whether or not they make an effort to find solutions to problems that do not fit one-size-fits-all, or who cater to certain segments of the population but are hard nosed to others. Yes, my dears, that happens. The "good old boy" system is alive and well.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Twenty Years of Heartbreak and Oceans of Tears

Over 20 years ago a beautiful baby girl was born to my eldest son and his wife. Her nickname is "Boops". She was a bright eyed, alert baby, seemingly perfect in every way, but the neonatal pediatrician detected a problem with her heart and had her transferred to Texas Children's Hospital in the Houston Medical Center where she could receive the specialized care she needed. The specialists there determined that she had a defective valve which surgery would correct.

"We'll repair it and she'll be home in a few days, less than a week," they assured us. Nine months of hospital hell ensued, in which time my daughter-in-law remained at Boops' side, coming home for a couple of hours only twice in all that time. The heart repair was a success but complications after complications occurred and time after time we were told she would not survive. For nine months our lives were an endless round of hope, despair, and deathbed watches. She would pull through one emergency only to be struck with another.

Ultimately she did survive. Instead of bringing her home "in a few days" it was nine long, harrowing months later. Instead of the near perfect little baby as she was born, she was blind, nearly deaf, severely brain damaged and profoundly retarded. She cannot sit alone but must be harnessed into her special high chair or wheelchair, or propped with pillows. She must be diapered and spoon fed and carried from bed to chair. She has never spoken a word, merely cries, screams, or sometimes laughs. In all ways she must be treated as a small baby, in spite of the fact she is now bigger than her petite mother.

An army of therapists and the extended family pitching in to help was fruitless - except she was finally taught to chew so she no longer had to be fed strained foods. Even so, food must be very soft or she chokes. There are times when she appears to suffer pain and screams in agony, but she cannot tell us what is wrong. Rocking her, walking the floor with her has no effect, and is difficult when the baby is 5' 2" long (tall) and weighs 110 pounds. It has been a hard, painful 20 years, especially for her mother since she and my son divorced, and she is a single mom with 2 other children.

Biting her lower lip, which is a no-no as she has made her lip raw doing that.

Laughing in glee. What does she find to laugh about in her dark, almost silent, empty world? She knows nothing of our world and does not respond to it , nor does she respond to "baby play". My grand mother said that angels were playing with babies who laughed as she does. That's as good an answer as any.

Appears pensive. What does she think about? Can she think? What fills her mind?

My former daughter-in-law and her normal daughter, my grand daughter. For 20 years the family life has revolved around Boops and her needs, and the normal children always had to take a back seat to Boops' care, a full time job. For years my daughter-in-law carried Boops every where she went, on family outings, shopping, visiting and tried to give the other two children a semblance of normal life. Taking Boops out was like moving day at the zoo, with hauling her big, heavy specialized wheelchair and all her equipment and care products with them. Now that Boops is larger than her mother, it is so difficult to take her out that my daughter-in-law, who has handicaps of her own, has become a virtual hermit, preferring to stay home than to suffer the hassles.
Now that Boops is an "adult" she cannot get the Crippled Children's benefits she once did. My daughter-in-law cannot get state aid because the authorities tell her that since Boops has attained her majority and is legally an adult, she must file claims herself! Arguing that Boops has the mind of an small infant and is incapable of filing for herself falls on deaf ears. They tell her that she must go to court, declare Boops incompetent and obtain legal guardianship for her. My daughter-in-law has no money for lawyers and the pro bono attorneys will not take her type of case.
Furthermore, the authorities inform my daughter-in-law that in order to get any type of state aid, she must take job training and get a job (workfare). She doesn't need job training; she has a profession. But she cannot work because she cannot get day care for Boops. Because of Boops' special needs, no one will take responsibiliy for caring for her. The authorities brightly offered her help: for a few hours one weekend a month they will send out a care worker as respite for the mother - give her a mother's day out. A couple of hours once a month does not help with holding down a job. The son has left home and the younger daughter is still in school so cannot care for Boops. Anyway, Boops' needs are too much for a little teenager.
That isn't all. Applying - or trying to- for medical assistance got this response. They said that if she ould not provide medical care for Boops, they would step in, take Boops away from her and put Boops in an institution!
My daughter-in-law lives in fear of Boops getting sick and the state would take Boops away from her. Several years ago during a family emergency my daughter-in-law checked out some state institutions for temporary placement of Boops. In one there were reports of sexual abuse of the patients, either by staff or other patients. In another a scandal erupted that the staff was using cattle prods on patients as a means of behavior modification. My daughter-in-law fled in horror, vowing never, never would she place Boops in one. Even at best, Boops would not receive the loving conscientious care she gets from her mother.
She and the 2 girls exist on the small child support she receives from my son. Now that Boops and the boy are legally adults, the teen age girl is the only one she receives support for. (My son is Bipolar and rather unstable so is little help.) They live about 70 miles from us so it is difficult for this side of the family to help. My daughter sends them a little money sometimes. Due to my reduced circumstances I can no longer help as I used to.
Children with Boops' problems usually do not live to adulthood. The fact that Boops is healthy, well developed, well nourished and as happy as it is possible for her to be is a testament to how well her mother has cared for her. You can see by her pictures that this is so. Being poor should not be a reason for the state to take a child away from its mother. My daughter-in-law was always a hard worker and is willing to work IF she can obtain proper day care for Boops, her top priority, but she cannot. The welfare of her children should be every mother's top priority but especially a child that is as totally helpless as Boops is. Every door has been slammed in her face. The authorities smugly tell her that if she'd just go get guardianship of Boops, then she could file for aid herself, ignoring the fact that there is no money for lawyers.
Is this common sense? Is this just? My daughter-in-law, my beautiful grand daughter and my lovely 20 year old grand "baby" just fall through the cracks and no one in positions of power and authority will make an effort to seek a solution. I get angry when I see certain people milking the taxpayers for every benefit they can possibly squeeze out and yet my own are denied any help at all. Twenty years of heartbreak and heartache and the beat goes on with no end in sight.
Who in the hell is driving this bus?
( You cannot tell by looking that my darling Boops is blind and profoundly retarded, can you? You can see the woman that she should have been, had it not been for all the tragic complications she suffered.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Black History; First Black Female Navy Flag Officer

Rear Adm. Lillian Fishburne. (Photo Courtesy Father Ryan High School, Nashville, Tenn.)
"Captain Barb" hosts a Webpage on women in the military: all branches, ranks, and historical erasBrief Fishburne bio
Black History Month SpecialBlack Military History ArchivesBlack Military History DirectoryBlack History E-CardsTuskegee Airmen Feature
Join our discussion here.
Have a suggestion for a Military Legend? Write to

Rear Admiral Lillian Fishburne
Navy Daughter Rose To Become Service's First Female African-American Flag Officer

By Bethanne Kelly Patrick Columnist

In 1998, when then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen delivered the speech at an occasion honoring, among others, Rear Adm. Lillian Fishburne, he quoted retired Air Force Maj. Albert Murray, an acclaimed novelist: "Heroism... is measured in terms of the stress and strain it can endure, and the magnitude and complexity of the obstacles that it overcomes... which bring out the best in [potential heroes]."

"Considering the stresses and strains endured by African-Americans in the defense of our country, it's little wonder that we have so many heroes among us," Cohen added. Fishburne, the first female African-American to be promoted to flag rank in the U.S. Navy, "is a woman whose story helps us to understand the truth that women are an indispensable part of today's military," Cohen said.

Fishburne was born near the water at Patuxent River, Md., and into a naval family. Her active-duty father never questioned his daughter's military career ambitions because she was female, and his faith in her paid off. She graduated from Lincoln University in Oxford, Pa., and less than two years later completed Women Officers School training at Newport, R.I. She was commissioned an ensign in 1973.

Fishburne's first assignment was as personnel and legal officer at the Naval Air Test Facility in Lakehurst, N.J. Her early career included a recruiting tour and charge of the Naval Telecommunications Center in Great Lakes, Ill. She attended the Naval Postgraduate School for two years and then took the position of assistant head, Joint Allied Command and Control Matters Branch. Appointments to positions like executive officer at the Naval Communications Command in Yokosuka, Japan, and special projects officer for the Navy's Command, Control, and Communications Directorate led to her selection for the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

After leading the Command and Control Systems Support Division in Washington, D.C., and commanding the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Eastern Pacific, in Hawaii, Fishburne was promoted to rear admiral on Feb. 1, 1998. Currently, she serves as director of the Information Transfer Division for the Space, Information Warfare, Command and Control Directorate, Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.


Moms Rising

My online friend Cooper Monroe, writes a blog with Emily McKhann called Been There.

Here's part of what Mommy Bloggers had to say about them in September 2006:

When Hurricane Katrina struck, Cooper and Emily watched in horror with the rest of the country. Determined to help, they turned their blog into a grassroots clearinghouse for needed goods. News of this effort spread like wildfire, and overnight, their site received a huge flood of traffic. With volunteer help and gumption to spare, Cooper and Emily moved the clearinghouse to a new domain, and kept the flow of goods moving.

Not content to rest on their laurels, they've become active in a group called Moms Rising. I've been on their mailing list for some time which probably makes me a member. They're a grass roots organization along the lines of and are dedicated to improving conditions for families, especially in the workplace.

Yesterday or possibly the day before, Moms Rising was the subject of a feature article in the New York Times. I read it and emailed Cooper to tell her I was pleased to see it but why oh why did they put it in the Fashion & Style section? What do problems like family leave, health care, etc. have to do with Fashion & Style or the huge Ralph Lauren ad on the same page. Oh well, the article was favorable and we'll take the publicity any way we can get it.

Cooper's post (click on Been There) has a link to the NYT article. You may have to be registered to read it but it's not behind their idiotic firewall. If you can't read it or don't want to register, let me know. I'll send it. Meantime, Cooper provided these excerpts from the article:

A generation of mothers who are largely perceived as postfeminist in every way, from sex to economic discrimination, has begun a consciousness-raising that is almost old-fashioned were it not for the technology involved. Raised to believe that girls could accomplish anything, these women have reached parenthood, only to find they faced many of the same pay, equity and work-family balance issues that were being fought over decades before. From that awakening, they say, has come the inkling of a new movement.

The seeds for MomsRising were planted in 2004, when Ms. Blades read a book about women and politics by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, 36, a married mother of two. Ms. Blades, 51, said she was astonished to find that many younger women didn’t identify with feminism and by the data showing vast disparities in incomes between mothers and fathers, with single mothers faring particularly badly.

"I’d been doing the MoveOn thing for over eight years and I thought: ‘I’m an organizer and I wasn’t aware of this. I don’t know how many people are aware of this,’ ” she said.
Both Cooper's post and the Times article are well worth reading.

Labels: , ,

Worried Takes a Day Off

I am not organized today. I am not going to post on news or issues. Instead I will refer you to other blogs and excellent posts.

I suggest that readers who are interested in current issues and want a well written post to peruse, go to . I backtracked Gdaeman for a number of posts and found that he not only had written on subjects I had in mind, but had written on them so much better than I could. I not only suggest that you check out some of his posts, but I urge you to. has a good post 02/22, "Maybe We Deserve It". Maybe we do, if we do not rise up and raise every kind of hell we can with our reps to block Bush's new budget. He wants to make the changes permanent. He is determined to shove through as many of the Neocon plots as he can during his short time left. He is utterly shameless in guaranteeing that the rich get richer and to hell with the poor.

I also recommend The Future Was Yesterday's post of today, Saturday 02/24, "Phases and Stages" . If 20% of the population accomplished what they did - and we know they did - then none of us have an excuse for allowing our nation to go down the tubes.

As the teen aged owner of "Peace Takes Courage" says - peace takes courage, and so does defending our country as did our forefathers. It just takes guts. Guts to stand up for what is right. Guts to take action. Guts to exercise our right to "peaceful assembly", as does Granny and her candle light group, as does Spadoman with his Tuesday peace marches ( ). Guts to join activist organizations that work for the betterment and support of our troops and veterans, as does Marty. Guts to relentlessly email our representatives about current issues, to sign petitions, to be unafraid to stand up and be counted. has a number of very good articles to read if you're feeling gutsy. Wimps may as well opt out. Marty is not radical; she is firm. She puts her money where her mouth is.

The Future Was Yesterday and others who were interested in Daniel's avatar ( ): Daniel directed us to Google images - don quixote search, pg. 2, artist Octavio Ocampo. More information and other Don Quixote paintings by Ocampo as well as Ocampo's biography may be found at , blog titled "Closet" ( blog url has nothing to do with blog content - long story). Anyway, art lovers click over to view these extraordinary works.



Friday, February 23, 2007

GLBT Students Face Danger in the Schools

This is sad but not surprising. My son and I have talked about his high school experiences years ago. Times may have changed since then but not nearly fast enough.

Below is an excerpt from Human Rights Watch. Click on the link for the whole article along with reports of school conditions in Zambia and Iraq.

In the United States, only 55 percent of students say they feel safe in school. Human Rights Watch found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in many U.S. schools are particularly vulnerable to unrelenting harassment from their peers. Despite the pervasiveness of the abuse, few school officials intervened to stop the harassment or to hold the abusive students accountable; in fact, some teachers and administrators encouraged or participated in the abuse. Over time, verbal harassment often escalated into sexual harassment and other forms of physical violence. These violations were compounded by the failure of federal, state, and local governments to enact laws that would provide students with express protection from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

One of our local high schools now has a Gay-Straight Alliance over the screams and howls of fundamentalists who were sure it would lead to degeneracy and worse. So far, most of their membership is "straight". The GLBT kids are frightened. I hope that will change but it's good to see the kids trying to make a difference.

Sadly, many schools have gone so far as to prohibit all clubs rather than allow the Gay-Straight Alliance on their campuses. With this reactionary thinking from parents and school administrators, it's a small wonder the hate is passed from generation to generation.

Thanks to Mother Jones for the link to Human Rights Watch.

Labels: ,

FOX to Host a Debate?

FOX has convinced the Nevada Democrats to allow them to host a debate there. What can they be thinking?

Move-on is fighting back. Here's the text of their letter they suggest I send out to my friends. I just signed the petition.


I wanted to tell you about something pretty outrageous.

Fox News convinced the Democratic Party to let Fox host a nationally-televised Democratic presidential primary debate this summer in Nevada!

But Fox isn't even a legitimate news channel! It's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh—dedicated to smearing Democrats. (Recently, Fox falsely claimed Sen. Barack Obama attended a terrorist school!)

There's a growing backlash of people demanding that Democrats drop Fox. Can you help out by signing this petition to the Democratic Party of Nevada? It's really easy—just click this link:



The Dastardly Duo Continues to Strike

I will not take up post space with a litany of woes inflicted by the Dastardly Duo, but I will relate that they continue and now expand one of their irritants.

Recently I reported that Spadoman's Round Circle Comment box showed up on this blog as an overlay when I tried to comment on his blog. (Round Circle blog but not his Peace Blog). It has continued to do this so that now when I wish to comment on his blog, I click on comment, come to Is America Burning and type in my comment on Spadoman's comment box displayed here, go back to Round Circle, click on his comment, come back to Is America Burning to read his comment box and see if my comment was published. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Thank you, Dastardly Duo for this example of marvelous, new, improved Blogger/Google technology.

Oh but the DD isn't through!. We have a new visitor, Sometimes Saintly Nick who commented on "Separation of Church and State". I checked out one of his three blogs and guess what happened when I tried to comment on it. Blogger would not pull up his comment box; where have I encountered that before? I returned to Is America Burning and surprise, surprise! There was Sometime Saintly Nick's comment box overlaid on this blog . Well, well, thank you again, Dastardly Duo. This idiotic error is harmless but it is a hassle when I wish to comment on one of these blogs. I just hope it doesn't spread.

Ooops! Too late. 02/24/07 Saturday. Now The Future Was Yesterday's comment box would not pull up on his blog but was here waiting for me on this blog when I returned. That's thrfee so far whose comment boxes appear as an overlay on my blog.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

2007 Is A Time Of Change

Or Upheaval?

Amongst many of our blogging friends and others there is a movement for change. People marrying, getting divorced, becoming engaged, starting new careers, moving to new locations, starting new blogs, dropping old ones.

Our government has new powers -that- be in Congress and the Senate and there is unsettlement and insecurity re: what they will do. The war news is not good and Bush rattles the saber at Iran and Syria; he and Israel prepare to unleash the dogs of war once again.

Nations are unsettled, engaging in wars and civil uprisings, slaughter and starvation, relocation of millions. Even in stable countries. the people are uneasy, disturbed, distressed about global happenings.

Throughout history all these things have occurred from time to time. Now, in 2007 they occur at once. It is a time of change and a time of upheaval.

Changes are taking place on this blog and will continue to change as time goes on. I hope our readers will stay with us. Already old friends have drifted away, newer friends visit less and less often, and new visitors drop in for a bit. The door is always open and all are welcome.

Worried American


From Marty on the Homefront

Here's an article about a fellow member of Military Families Speak Out. Her son is suffering from severe PTSD and is being re-called to go back to Iraq for the third time. She is on a mission to prevent that from happening to her son and to others... Her name is Tina Richards. Her son is Cloy Richards.
Excerpted from Comments of above site:

Kudos! (4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
karendc, MH in PA, Silence is Complicity, AllDemsOnBoard
Congress Critters must be contacted. In person (whenever possible - but from out here in the dingtoolies that's not normally practical since they're in DC most of the time), by email, phone, FAX. Keep their inboxes full, their answering machines full - all with 'end the war, de-fund the war, bring the troops home NOW, close Gitmo, stop torture' and 'IMPEACH' messages to the appropriate Congress Critters. Let them know you've read the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions, US law (title 18 relating to war crimes, specifically), MCA '06 which gave Georgie dictatorial power and took away habeas corpus, that you understand what you're reading, and you know Georgie and Dickie and their ilk have committed war crimes with the invasion of Iraq, the torture and imprisonment of people at Gitmo and elsewhere, and that's grounds for IMPEACHMENT, that you want our rights and privileges restored to us, that MCA '06, the Patriot Acts, both AUMFs, and additions to FISA need to be repealed - virtually everything shoved through Congress since the SCOTUS decision of Dec. 2000 needs to be repealed in the same short amount of time Georgie shoved it all through Congress on an up or down vote. (Oh, and yes, do read those documents so you have a perfect understanding of what you're talking about and can speak or write with authority; they are amazing pieces, written in elementary English, they are easily understood and quoted, and easily found with Google searches.)
Conyers and others in the House had impeachment papers drawn up a long time ago and McKinney did introduce impeachment before she was voted out of office, although the House in the 109th voted it down, of course. Several states have already passed impeachment proceedings. It's only Pelosi who refuses to put impeachment on the table, which is why nothing is happening in the House to even begin the process. She needs to be contacted. I'd prefer she be forced to acknowledge Georgie's war crimes and brought to realize that IMPEACHMENT is best for this country - preferably BEFORE Georgie has a chance to order another illegal war crime by attacking Iran.
Don't forget Lamestream Media, specifically local Lamestream Media. When local people see other local people on the news, that carries a heavy message. Some in-state stations have what passes for 'political commentators' (they don't get national attention, but people who watch those channels do see and hear what they have to say, even if it's skewed politics as usual) and some in-state TV stations have neoCon owners who espouse only the neoCon stance, so their news is always slanted. Flooding their inboxes isn't a half-bad idea if only to get them to devote five or ten seconds of an opposing viewpoint now and then. Even if one only tunes in to in-state media to get the weather report, occasionally one may be able to hear those passing references to other opinions and that can make a difference. Contacting national Lamestream Media poli-yak shows is advisable, too, because it lets them know that there are other viewpoints out there besides the neoCon 'more war is peace' message.
Rallies and marches and demonstrations are difficult to do in the snow. Jan. 27 was one of those rare days that cooperated with the demonstrators in DC and elsewhere, but we have to face the fact that winter hampers public gatherings, so until the weather warms up outdoor activities may be difficult most of the time (global warming and record-setting warm winters aside, we're expecting about ten inches of snow by this weekend where I live, so weather realities must be dealt with).
It would be nice to think that there wouldn't be any need for demonstrations once the weather improves, but I'm afraid it will be necessary to have peace rallies the moment the weather improves enough that cold and snow and blizzards won't hamper peace efforts.
Thanks for being one of the faces in DC to represent those of us who can't get to our legislators in person! When next you see the people you mentioned in your dKos diary, please give them a giant hug of support from me while you're at it. You are all heroes in my book...!!!
by NonnyO on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 06:42:21 AM PST

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Separation of Church and State - Defcon

"Christian values should dominate our government... Politicians who do not use the Bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." - Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women for America

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." - James Madison, 4th president of the United States

Dear (deleted), Beverly LaHaye or James Madison: whose side are you on?

[I]t's time to celebrate the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, who enshrined the separation of church and state in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Join DefCon and remind our fellow Americans that keeping religion out of government was one of the founders' most enlightened commitments.

Click here to write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting this critical American principle (we've even provided some handy talking points to get you started).

Our Founding Fathers knew that a strong American democracy, and religious freedom for all, required building a wall between church and state. Despite this, religious right leaders like James Dobson, Beverly LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson have waged war both on this central American principle and the freedoms it allows. Their campaign hopes to revise American history, ignoring our commitment to the separation of church and state and replacing it with a government based on their narrow ideology.

Fortunately, our founders made clear their opposition to the mixing of government and religion. Leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison frequently commented on the importance of separating church and state, and, in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, George Washington's administration emphatically stated, "the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."

Show your support for the wall between church and state and write a letter to the editor of your local paper today. Click here to write a letter to the editor.Not sure what to say? Join the conversation at the DefCon blog. Our members have gathered some great resources on what the Founding Fathers really had to say about religion in government. Check out the quotes and links we've gathered, or add your own.

Clark and the rest of the DefCon team


Monday, February 19, 2007

Gutless Wonders in Congress

I seldom post about the war on Is America Burning, but sometimes the issue is pertinent to all citizens. I could list the urls to several newsies that published on our gutless Congressmen but instead will link to the blog of a veteran who opposes the war, who has been there-done that in a war zone and knows what the score is.
Check out the February 19, 2007 post "An Attempt at Inspiration by a Veteran" on Round Circle at: .

Weapons of Mass Deception may be rented at your local video and game rental store or Blockbuster Video, or via mail at . The lowest contract is very inexpensive and may be canceled at any time.


Somebody Buy the Man a Calendar

It's time for a little levity at the expense of our fearless leader.

I don't watch late night t.v. so I missed this clip from David Letterman.

Thanks to Delilah Boyd for making my day.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Addendum to Education Posts Below

Please read Granny's post below about truthful history books! I am astonished!

This post is a comment on "No Child Left Behind..." posted below. It was too good to hide on the comment box so I am publishing it on the front page.

Children are our future. They are the future of this country, of the world, of the human race. The molding of their minds should not be left in the hands of self serving politicians and their cronies. Their education is therefore important to non-parents or empty-nesters who care about the future. It is essential that parents, educators and communities work together in a strong partnership to assure the best for the children.

I believe in children and our young people! WA

Boca Beth said...
As a mom of three and educator of thousands I feel your pain, hear your case and truly know that we all we be heard one day - and hopefully not too late for the children's well being.

Our country needs to realize one very simple fact - the most formative years of a person's development are birth - five. Let's concentrate on giving sound foundations in the areas which we need to impact: second language learning, physical fitness and literacy skills. The early years are when we can impact our young children so why doesn't our country focus on these parents and teachers and the children they reach daily? Why don't we make more readily available the whys, the whens and the how tos for those responsible for molding and developing the youth of our country?

I strongly urge a continued voicing of discontent with the current system and a constant providing of solutions for turning things around in a direction that embraces physically fit young children, bilingual young children and early readers. As an early childhood educator and language learning series creator I am surrounded daily by tools, tips and techniques that could instantly assist our country's efforts with ease, fun and affordability. They need to look beyond their comfort zone, look for the innovative and far-reaching solutions entrepreneurs nation-wide are creating for the future of our country.

Happy Educating!
¡Sea Feliz Educando!
Beth ButlerCreator of the Boca Beth Program
Raise A Bilingual Child
Sunday, February 18, 2007 12:31:00 PM


Have You Seen This?

A "history book, complete with illustrations, has been published and approved for use by the San Francisco Unified School District.

It won't be required but teachers may use it if they wish.

It's a novelty. It tells the truth, beginning with the French and Indian Wars to the present time.

Here's a quote from the Blogging Baby post:

"Addicted to War -- Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism" is an unabashedly liberal look at the United States and its involvement in foreign wars throughout its history. The website for the book explains that "packed with historical photographs and quotes from people in the military, the government, and big business, Addicted to War explains who benefits from these military adventures, who pays and who dies."

I can hardly wait for the howls of outrage.

On a personal note, my daughter has been in the hospital since Friday evening and not doing well. I'll try to make the drive today to see her. I don't want to write the whole thing twice so here's a link to my post on granny.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts.

Labels: , , ,

No Child Left Behind? Too Many Falling Through the Cracks.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


No Child Left Behind?

Every 2 minutes a baby is born into poverty. Every 7 minutes a baby is born at low birth weight. Every 15 minutes a baby is born to a mother who received late or no prenatal care. Every hour a baby dies before turning one. NCLB blames teachers for failing schools, but it's not so simple

Click on the URL and the link above for entire articles. Scroll down to texts on URL.


The Seven Deadly Absurdities of No Child Left Behind

Click on link for entire article, detailing flaws and absurdities in the plan.

Excerpt: To some, NCLB has always been yet another Bush administration Orwellian Double Speak program. It aims to increase the use of vouchers, increase the privatization of public schools, reduce the size of the public sector, and weaken or destroy the teachers unions (two Democratic power bases). It contains enough inherent absurdities, though, that people of all political stripes should welcome a speedy revision or demise. The candidates should be talking about all this.


No Child Left Behind Should Be More Than a Slogan


[WA. The goal of the Theocrats is for the church to take over supervising the education (brainwashing) of our children. The curriculum would embrace the religious views of the CR, not science or fact. The failure of present public schools and subsequent privatization of schools would offer the opportunity for the religious to take control, just as the Administration strives to reduce/eliminate government "welfare" and place it in the hands of "faith based" organizations (churches).

Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas. Recently it awarded bonuses to teachers for excellent work as an incentive. All hell tore loose. Teachers of core subjects - English, reading, math and science - were the main bonus recipients as standards were based on certain tests of the entire school. Kindergarten teachers, bilingual teachers, physical education teachers and special education teachers were left out because those students/classes did not take the tests. Some teachers complained that they no longer taught subjects; they had to teach tests. She said it was test, test, test when it should be teach, teach, teach. Several years ago a teacher complained that for weeks before the tests she had to teach the material covered on the tests, not the overall subject matter.The children learned the test material but did not know the subject well. see Bonuses bring smilles, frowns: A teacher whose entire class passed the TAKS test received no bonus; neither did the bilingual teacher who had been named Bilingual Teacher of the Year.

Due to the vast influx of illegal immigrants to this country whose children must be educated, bilingual teachers are very important.

quote: “About half of the immigration into the United States is illegal, thus approximately half of the impact of immigration on our public schools (may be) due to illegal immigration. In California, where illegal immigration is concentrated, the California Department of Education estimates 16 new classrooms will need to be built every day, seven days a week, for the next five years. The number of teachers will need to be doubled within ten years, requiring 300,000 new educators." Naomi Lege: Opening Doors Immigration and Education. This at a time when too many teachers are leaving the profession and too few entering it, compounded by the grading of schools according to NCLB test results that have no scientific basis.

In Texas the percentage of Hispanic students has risen dramatically and the percentage of anglo (white) students has fallen. In Houston ISD in 2005, 59% of students were Hispanic, including illegal immigrant, non-English speaking students. There are an estimated 1.5 million Hispanic students in Texas and an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 are illegals, a vast increase in non-English speaking students. There must be bi-lingual text books and materials and bilingual teachers to teach. Can anyone honestly say that these teachers do not qualify for bonuses? Is teaching these children the common language of the U.S. and educating them equally to their anglo peers not important?

Pre-school and Kindergarten teachers build the groundwork and foundation for all education to follow. Is their work unimportant and ineligible for bonuses? Childhood obesity and poor physical conditions are a national scandal, yet Physical Education teachers do not qualify for bonuses? Is there a harder job than trying to educate physically/mentally challenged children than a Special Education teacher?Are Music and Arts unimportant? Yet the tests to meet criteria for schools to pass the NCLB standards do not include any of these. Core subjects are important and necessary but children need a well rounded education.

Bush's No Child Left Behind is a crock of it and merely a ploy to move to privatization of schools, with attendent profits to the owners (Bush LOVES Private Enterprise and Business) and an open door to the Theocrats to dictate curriculia.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Disappearing photos= red Xed white squares

Re: photos on blogs being replaced by white squares with red Xs in left corner.

Spadoman: far be it for a tyro like me to advise on blogger/internet/computer usage. I can merely speak from one experience I had. After I published avatars and sidebar photos to various blogs, they suddenly disappeared to be replaced by the white squares/red Xs. I went on a rant blaming Blogger, but it turned out it was my own error, which I discovered by reading Photobucket's tutorial.

Downloading pictures to the blog results in an alphabet soup of letters, numbers, and symbols called htmls being published to edit post page before they miraculously morph into pictures. Apparently these htmls must be anchored to their original source or they go free floating off into cyberspace and the picture is no longer displayed. Breaking the anchor chain, as I did when I deleted my photos from Photobucket, allows the htmls and therefore the pictures to escape. (I get a lot of emails bearing white squares also. I don't know about emails that had good pics from the sender but nothing on my end).

I am certain that more knowledgeable computer users can explain much better than I and probably offer other reasons why this happens, also. Bloggers are always very helpful to each other and willing to share information . Granny and I couldn't have survived on our blogs without help from our blogger friends, and we still get tips. Thank you, all. Anyone who can help, please comment here or contact Spadoman at

Core Values?

Reflecting the theocratic view of the conservatives on the Hill. The Religious Right/ Christian Reconstructionists/Dominionists aim to put women back in the home where they "belong" and out of politics, activism, outside jobs, and force them to avoid birth control. They will be allowed to home school their children, strictly by RR guidelines, and attend to home chores - housekeeping, kitchen and bedroom duties. Maintain "core values". Check out Kvatch's post. WA
Kvatch post

Recently appointed Bureau Director John Bolton said of the coins: " create a coin with a solid conservative message. I mean, what does it say...putting women on our money? Sacagawea? Toting her kid on her back? Obviously employed outside the home--a rejection of a core American value, I'd say.And don't even get me started with Susan B. Anthony.
"The history of America is the history of great male achievements. So we're gonna find some crusty old white guys to engrave on our dollars."

PS: read the comments after Kvatch's post. Some are quite witty. WA
As Granny said in one of her previous posts, our politicians lie to us, conceal their true beliefs and agendas, but once in a while one of them slips up and reveals their true beliefs and goals. Bolton's remarks exemplifies the conservative and theocratic view of women. WA

Notice: after Sat. the post below about the ice storm will be deleted. The photos are so large that they push our sidebar to the bottom, and most everyone has already viewed them that were interested.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Citizen Rights for ALL

It is too late to get in on the "week" but it is never too late to get involved. Involvement in this movement can be 365 days a year, not just one week. ALL Americans should have the same basic rights.
The Religious Right is silly to claim that gay marriage undermines and threatens the sanctity of marriage. I asked a certain Christian person who swallowed the brainwashing of the CR/RR just how a gay pair marrying threatened or undermined the sanctity of her very stable and loving marriage. She gaped at me. Like so many of the faithful, she had never exercised any reasoning thought about the CR/RR rhetoric, just accepted it as holy truth. HOGWASH!

10th Annual Freedom to Marry Week 10 years of work. 10 years of change. 10 years closer to equality. Now all we need is you. Read more...
See Granny's posts below re: gay rights, gay children/foster parents


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bait and Switch

Does it come as any surprise that politicians lie? When the religious right was campaigning for the anti-gay marriage law last year, they assured the voters that it wouldn't affect any protections currently in place for all domestic partners.

They have changed their tune as most of us knew they would.

I live in California which hasn't yet approved gay civil unions or marriage but has approved domestic partners. They don't receive many of the protections which automatically come with marriage but it's a start.

We've been successful so far in beating back the challenges here.

Since anything that affects my son also affects me, I'm quite active in the struggle for gay rights. I would have been in any event but for me it's personal.

Gay adoption/foster care is legal here. I've probably said this before but if I don't make it to see the girls grown (youngest now 11), I'd like their Uncle Tim to take over. If the religious right gets their way, that won't happen. Even if he does, any legal rights he would have in California might not carry over to another state. I don't understand why "full faith and credit" doesn't apply but evidently it doesn't. It isn't fair and it isn't right.

I visit several blogs written by GLBT adoptive and foster parents. Daddy, Papa & Me writes about his family life in San Francisco with their beautiful adopted daughter. He also writes about gay rights and spells out the Michigan outrage better than I ever could. It's personal to him as well as to me.

I borrowed the title of this post from him. Bait and switch says it all.

Labels: , ,

Valentines Day Greetings

All of us here at Is America Burning wish all our friends, fellow bloggers, visitors, and lurkers a very happy holiday and send hopes for peace and love your way. Yes, even you email trolls; you need some of both. At least once today, sing a little of Joy to the World by 3 Dog Night. Each of us need some joy in our life. You can't help but get a boost from that song.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Good Blog

I recommend a blogger visitor from one of my other blogs. He posts on various issues, including ones not covered here. His posts are well researched, well written and timely. I believe some of our readers will be interested in his blog.


What If the Tables Were Turned?

My friend, Yondalla, (with a lot of help from her family) fosters gay teenage boys. She is loving, compassionate, and brilliant. She's also honest about the joys, the sorrows, successes, failures, and sometimes the frustrations of working within the "system". In her "spare" time, she's a University teacher.

She and I "met" when she noticed the PFLAG link on granny and we've become close online friends. For any who may not know, that's Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (since expanded to include transgender and bisexual. My two sons and I helped start the chapter here. One is gay, the other isn't but they've always supported each other.

Her post today talks about singling out and stereotyping. It's a topic we come back to often in our meetings.

Thanks, Yondalla.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Baby Boomers - This Affects You!

There is a lot of talk and hand wringing about the sky falling when the Baby Boomers retire. Read mine and Granny's 2 posts below to see the beginning of the end for YOU. This isn't just about us old folks and poor people now; this affects newer generations also, probably with even more disasterous results.


Bush and the Balanced Budget

Health care, education, what's next?

The veterans, of course. Thanks for serving in our illegal little war, glad you survived, now get lost.

From the Associated Press via Truthout today.

Veterans Face Consecutive Budget Cuts
By Andrew Taylor
The Associated Press

Monday 12 February 2007

Washington - The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now - even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012.

After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly - by more than 10 percent in many years - White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.

The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends - its medical care budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent in the six years since Bush took office - sowing suspicion that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better.

"Either the administration is willingly proposing massive cuts in VA health care," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, chairman of the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "Or its promise of a balanced budget by 2012 is based on completely unrealistic assumptions."

Edwards said that a more realistic estimate of veterans costs is $16 billion higher than the Bush estimate for 2012.

In fact, even the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies. Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.

The veterans cuts, said White House budget office spokesman Sean Kevelighan, "don't reflect any policy decisions. We'll revisit them when we do the (future) budgets."

The number of veterans coming into the VA health care system has been rising by about 5 percent a year as the number of people returning from Iraq with illnesses or injuries keep rising. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans represent almost 5 percent of the VA's patient caseload, and many are returning from battle with grievous injuries requiring costly care, such as traumatic brain injuries.

All told, the VA expects to treat about 5.8 million patients next year, including 263,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House budget office, however, assumes that the veterans' medical services budget - up 83 percent since Bush took office and winning a big increase in Bush's proposed 2008 budget - can absorb a 2 percent cut the following year and remain essentially frozen for three years in a row after that.

"It's implausible," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said of the budget projections.

The White House made virtually identical assumptions last year - a big increase in the first year of the budget and cuts for every year thereafter to veterans medical care. Now, the White House estimate for 2008 is more than $4 billion higher than Bush figured last year.

And the VA has been known to get short-term estimates wrong as well. Two years ago, Congress had to pass an emergency $1.5 billion infusion for veterans health programs for 2005 and added $2.7 billion to Bush's request for 2006. The VA underestimated the number of veterans, including those from Iraq and Afghanistan, who were seeking care, as well as the cost of treatment and long-term care.

The budget for hospital and medical care for veterans is funded for the current year at $35.6 billion, and would rise to $39.6 billion in 2008 under Bush's budget. That's about 9 percent. But the budget faces a cut to $38.8 billion in 2009 and would hover around that level through 2012.

The cuts come even as the number of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is expected to increase 26 percent next year.

In Bush's proposal to balance the budget by 2012, he's assuming that spending on domestic agency operating budgets will increase by about 1 percent each year.

Granny and Worried are Welfare Addicts, Free-Loaders, Lazy, Improvident, Thieves ?

I have heard and read a lot of rhetoric about recipients of the entitlement programs that have been so stealthily and gradually cut over the Bush years. One of the most annoying positions taken by the Religious Right and their followers is that recipients are "stealing" from the tax payers and primarily the rich; that we take funds that do not belong to us from the pockets of those who earned the money. Some of the Religious Right and President Bush promote diverting funds to the churches (Reconstructionist/Dominionists churches) to administer "faith based initiatives" instead of government aid. The record of faith based administration of AID to third world countries does not inspire confidence in their type of assistance to the poor and needy.

Another source of annoyance is Bush's "Ownership Society" goals, wherein entitlement programs would be abolished as citizens claim ownership of their own futures and lives - living needs, health care, education, retirement, etc. Another is their position that God blesses the "good" with wealth and curses or punishes the wicked sinners with poverty, so therefore poverty is one's own fault. If all these sinners would just get a job, support themselves and family, save for their childrens' education, save to buy a home, save for their retirement, they wouldn't have to steal from the taxpayers. If they did this, God would bless them also and make them rich, all on minium wage. Oh yes, if they had just had the foresight to be born into a family that could afford a higher education for their children, they could get a better job that paid more, so it is still their own fault. Hmmm. What about today's shrinking middle class who do have good educations and good jobs, yet find themselves falling further and further behind economically? I guess they must have begun sinning and so are cursed like the poor people.

So, see Granny, if you and I or Ray or Elcie weren't such bad people, if we weren't addicted to welfare, if we weren't so lazy, if we had not been so improvident as to fail to provide for our aged, sickly years, and if we weren't thieves who steal from the pockets of the "good" folks who earned that tax payer money, we wouldn't be in the position we find ourselves today. It is all our fault. Now, aren't you glad I cleared that up?

Well, excuse the heck out of me, Mr. President and lawmakers. Both I and my husbands all worked and paid taxes; I worked full time until I married my last husband and still worked part time, although I spent part of those years as wife/home maker/ mother. Even when I occupied the latter role, I still worked on do-good activities, volunteering on drug rehabilitation programs, local food and clothing drives for the needy, and activist endeavors. My last husband paid taxes on a near six figure income which was nothing to sneeze at in those days, and he didn't have the tax breaks of your current elite. Granny and Ray worked their buns off and paid through the nose, too, and contributed to society with do-good endeavors and activism. Our children and grand children are hard workers and self sufficient. Only one of my Thundering Horde is on welfare and that is because she is handicapped, but she worked long and hard before she was struck down. Sometimes life delivers you a kick in the teeth and all the best laid plans of mice and men go astray, and in your old age you are left sick, handicapped, and poor. NONE OF US ARE WELFARE ADDICTS, FREE LOADERS, LAZY, IMPROVIDENT, OR THIEVES. What do you expect us to do? Curl up and die? You'd prefer that, wouldn't you, and relieve you of the burden.

Rant and rave..... It is CRIMINAL what is being done to Granny, Ray and Elcie, and others like them across the nation. WA


The End of the Welfare State?
The 1994 election, according to Gingrich, signaled the end of the welfare state. Yet he and the Republicans swear they have no intention of reducing Social Security--which is, of course, the very core of the welfare state. [WA: eliminating or reducing Social Security is one of the goals on Bush's agenda. Having people invest for retirement would also further enrich the investment brokers. ]
A movement that genuinely reflected both popular will and the march of history should have no need of double-talk and subterfuge. But there is plenty of both in the conservative crusade against the welfare state.

To the average American, "welfare" means handouts to the poor and does not include earned benefits such as Social Security. Thus, in everyday political parlance, Gingrich's declarations about the end of the welfare state seem to have a narrow reference. In its broader, historical meaning, however, the welfare state includes not only Social Security pensions but also Medicare, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, workers' compensation, and much else that Republicans do not publicly [but privately and behind the scenes. WA] oppose.

Gingrich the former history professor clearly has this broader meaning in mind when he talks about historical watersheds; Gingrich the politician then distances himself from the implications. In effect, the use of the term "welfare state" gives Gingrich what is known in Washington as "deniability." He can talk about epochal change and then say that only unscrupulous Democrats would unfairly attribute to him any intention to tamper with Social Security.

What the Republicans know they cannot accomplish through a frontal assault, they hope to accomplish through indirect means [stealth, gradually]. As Philip Harvey, Theodore R. Marmor, and Jerry L. Mashaw argue in this issue, the Contract with America is a fiscal time bomb set to go off just after the turn of the century[so what's happening now?]. To balance the budget, raise military spending, and avoid new taxes would require massive spending reductions, inevitably affecting Social Security and Medicare. If the Congress passes the Contract's new tax breaks ("backloaded" so their costs climb sharply after five years), the pressure would be even greater to undo social programs. Gingrich's strategy is clearly to create a crisis that will force Americans to accept measures they would otherwise be unwilling to swallow. It is strange how revolutionaries who believe their cause to be popular, just, and inevitable nonetheless find so much need to manipulate people into actions they don't want to take.

Excerpt from: Who Own the Future? part of paragraph End of Welfare State. For entire article, click on:
Republican-Libertarian despises the Poor, calls them Junkies
author: Sean Turner
Federal "entitlement" like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, may soon include "universal healthcare" and "tax cuts for the working poor" (translation: "welfare lite") - yet considers military spending "discretionary". Go figure...

America's Addiction
Sean Turner, Subsidiary of J.J. Johnson Enterprises, Inc., July 15, 2003

Last year, the federal government spent billions to deal with them. Millions of Americans are addicted to them in one or more of their various forms. They've broken the will of countless "consumers" for decades. Today, they are far worse than a generation ago, and without any obstacles, their path of destruction will continue to erode the very fabric of America. What am I referring to? If you guessed illegal drugs, then you're absolutely incorrect. The correct answer is: government "entitlements".

Federal "entitlement" programs come in many forms, and are known by a number of names like Social Security, "welfare", food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, child nutrition, agricultural subsidies, etc. Soon, they may be known by a few more names like "universal healthcare", "prescription drug benefits", and "tax cuts for the working poor" (translation: "welfare lite"). Nevertheless, socialism by any other name is still socialism. Its "feel good" policies, utopian promises, and disastrous results mimic the rhetoric of your friendly neighborhood street-corner "pharmacist". Its wealth redistribution mechanisms are replete with subsidies that conceal failure, unearned income that replaces frugality and planning, and policies that discourage self-sufficiency. Despite a plethora of history showing the rapaciousness of "entitlement" programs, millions refuse to kick the "habit", and continue to beg Congress (read, the "pusherman") for more money to satiate their appetite for dependency.

Excerpted from: Republican-Libertarian Despises the Poor, Calls them Junkies. For complete article, click on:


Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News ServicePublished on Friday, February 25, 2005 by
Is This Your Ownership Society?
by Holly Sklar

Would you invest in a company that cut your wages, laid off your cousin, polluted your neighborhood, cut your health insurance and raided your retirement fund? If so, you'll love President Bush's "ownership society."
At a time of rising support for socially responsible business, Bush's ownership society offers less social responsibility, less opportunity and accelerating dis-investment in the future.
Extensive studies demonstrate the economic benefits of corporate social and environmental responsibility, including improved financial performance, productivity, quality, innovation and reduced operating costs. "For example," says Business for Social Responsibility, "many initiatives aimed at improving environmental performance -- such as reducing emissions of gases that contribute to global climate change...also lower costs."
The ownership society backed by Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget is the worst of all worlds: fiscally, socially and environmentally irresponsible, morally bankrupt, and toxic to democracy.
Lincoln fought for "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Bush stands for government of the owners, by the owners, for the owners.
The richest 1 percent of households already owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Take-home pay as a share of the economy is at the*** lowest level since 1929.
Bush is reshaping the tax and budget system so workers pay a greater share of the costs and owners pay less. As wealth is increasingly sheltered from taxes, inequality will become more entrenched and hereditary in Bush's ownership society.
While Bush runs up the national debt to reckless levels, risking economic crisis, to give more tax breaks to millionaires, his budget cuts education, a pillar of individual and national progress, on the pretense of fiscal responsibility.
The unemployment rate is *30 percent higher than it was in 2000. About one out of six Americans has *no health insurance, and half of all bankruptcies are *illness-related. One out of eight Americans lives *below the meager official poverty line -- and many more *can't make ends meet above it.

Excerpt from: Is This Your Ownership Society? For complete article, click on:

Labels: ,

Health Care

I don't want to go into a rant once again about what the government is doing to my husband on health care. I've already written about it and the only change is for the worse.

Now he's expected to pay a $1,400 deductible per month (out of a not quite $900 income) for the state program to cover his co-pay. We sink a little deeper each month. They've begun billing us for the premiums on prescription drug coverage and have double his co-pay on prescriptions. He takes a lot of medicine and it all adds up.

If it's happening to us, it's happening all over the country. How can they possibly justify a monthly deductible higher than his Social Security?

Our local mental health unit has been laying off people and refusing treatment to many of their clients. You're suicidal? They give you the number of the local help line. Homicidal? I guess they wait until you kill someone.

I'm ranting and I said I wouldn't. They also plan, at least here in CA, to cut services to special needs kids which includes our Elcie. I don't know yet what that will entail.

We're not parasites; we've both worked all our lives to keep our heads barely above water. He worked until he could no longer and I gave up employment to care for the girls.

The system is broken.

Evidently, the New York Times agrees. Here, as reprinted in Truthout today, is what they said.

Passing the Buck on Health Care
The New York Times Editorial

Monday 12 February 2007

President Bush's new budget would extend the administration's warped priorities deep into the realm of federally supported health care programs. The administration long ago sacrificed any meaningful domestic agenda to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and its reckless war in Iraq. The White House's reckless determination to make the tax cuts permanent is now driving it to slash domestic spending in health and other vital programs.

Instead of trying to address the underlying problems of escalating health care costs, Mr. Bush's strategy is to cut services or shift more of the bill to states, health care providers and individuals.

In the Medicare program, which covers health care for Americans aged 65 and over, the administration would find most of its savings by slowing the annual increase in reimbursements for services, forcing hospitals and other providers to absorb the burden. Given Medicare's precarious financial straits, the package appears broadly acceptable.

The real outrage is that the administration has not proposed comparable reductions in the large overpayments - roughly 12 percent more per patient - made to private managed care plans that enroll Medicare beneficiaries. The budget would also phase out Medicare bad-debt payments, forcing hospitals to swallow beneficiaries' unpaid bills.

The budget also looks to save money by eliminating inflation indexing so that as incomes rise, so would the number of people required to pay higher premiums. Although this is a sneaky way to raise premiums, it is hard to argue with the notion that better-off beneficiaries should pay more to help rescue a financially strained program.

What seems counterproductive is Mr. Bush's plan to lower federal matching funds for Medicaid administration - forcing the states to find more of their own funds or sacrifice good management and oversight. More worrisome is his plan to cut back on state programs that insure the young.

The most shortsighted restrictions would come in the highly acclaimed State Children's Health Insurance Program, which uses federal matching funds to provide coverage for low- and moderate-income children who are not quite poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. The program has been enormously successful in reducing the number of uninsured children. Yet now the administration wants to reduce its matching rate and limit enrollment to children in households earning no more than twice the federal poverty level. That would undercut programs in 16 states that have expanded coverage to children above that level.

Although the administration's budget would grant the children's program a small $5 billion increase spread over five years, that's less than half, and possibly only a third, of the amount needed just to maintain current enrollments and participation rates. This is too high a price to pay for more tax cuts and Mr. Bush's ill-managed presidency.

Labels: ,