Archive for April 7th, 2013

by lizard

Though state Republicans are trying to out-do punching poor people (figuratively or course) with incredibly cruel legislation like this, I still kinda wish Mitt Romney won the election.

Before addressing the cognitive dissonance of that sentence, this is what Missouri Republicans want to do to poor kids:

Cookson is sponsoring House Bill 1040. It is short and self-explanatory: “School age children of welfare recipients must attend public school, unless physically disabled, at least ninety percent of the time in order to receive benefits.”

In other words, the responsibility for the family’s financial well-being would depend on a child’s school attendance. That’s a lot of responsibility to place on a first-grader with tonsillitis, or a middle-schooler with mononucleosis, or a high school kid with clinical depression.

While Republicans are openly attacking the poor in Missouri and Tennessee, Democrats take a different approach. They seem to prefer taking the poor gently by the hand and saying these cuts are for your own good.

I know DECISION 2012 is over, but if we could go back to that delightful time period before the presidential election, when Republicans were trying to get away with blatantly lying about Obama gutting the work requirements for welfare, I’d like to briefly explore why Democrats had very legitimate reasons to be upset.

The problem is those reasons have to be artfully articulated, and that’s because Democrats must be very careful how they talk about their support for neoliberal poor-bashing; it’s a much more delicate form of attack to employ.

At the DNC convention, for example, Bill Clinton couldn’t help including a bit of self-promotion in his speech when defending the deceitful attacks against Obama. And with the millions of people Clinton’s welfare reform shed, he had every reason to be indignant over the false depiction by Republicans.

Luckily the Democrat base exhibits a general inability to recognized policy failures by celebrities like Bill Clinton, though The Nation will still dutifully point out why Clinton’s welfare reform has been a failure.

I doubt Bill Clinton’s big donors would see welfare reform as a failure, though. And because Bill Clinton got his telecommunication act passed, allowing corporate media to further consolidate their market share of messaging, the poor have had even less visibility as the economic disparity continues to widen.

While Bill Clinton continues to cash in on his corporate servitude, former aides of Max Baucus are doing the same, according to this NYT article:

Restaurant chains like McDonald’s want to keep their lucrative tax credit for hiring veterans. Altria, the tobacco giant, wants to cut the corporate tax rate. And Sapphire Energy, a small alternative energy company, is determined to protect a tax incentive it believes could turn algae into a popular motor fuel.

To make their case as Congress prepares to debate a rewrite of the nation’s tax code, this diverse set of businesses has at least one strategy in common: they have retained firms that employ lobbyists who are former aides to Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will have a crucial role in shaping any legislation.

No other lawmaker on Capitol Hill has such a sizable constellation of former aides working as tax lobbyists, representing blue-chip clients that include telecommunications businesses, oil companies, retailers and financial firms, according to an analysis by LegiStorm, an online database that tracks Congressional staff members and lobbying. At least 28 aides who have worked for Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana, since he became the committee chairman in 2001 have lobbied on tax issues during the Obama administration — more than any other current member of Congress, according to the analysis of lobbying filings performed for The New York Times.

While corporations purchase access to a political system absolutely corrupted by money, a bank in Georgia—SunTrust Bank—literally put edible food in dumpsters to keep it from going to poor Georgians who helped the storeowner clear his store after eviction. Here’s the local report:

Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people were waiting outside of Laney Supermarket… all hoping to stuff garbage bags with free food. The merchandise was piled up outside of the building after the store owner was evicted early Tuesday morning. But before anyone could grab anything, the Sheriff showed up.

“The normal process is once law enforcement leaves, it becomes public property. But again, with 400 people out with items such as these. These were brand new items from the store. We saw that the potential for a riot was extremely high,” says Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

Zenard Pryor, a frequent shopper there, says that before deputies got there, he was helping the store owner remove items from the building.

“So he said, man you know, I’m fixing to get rid of all of this stuff, man, as long as you work, I ain’t got not money to pay you all and stuff, as long as you work, you can get anything that you see that you want. That’s what he said. So me and the dudes, we all get together and started working, cleaning up the building and stuff. We didn’t know that the Police were going to come in, and Roundtree are going to come in here and say throw everything in the trash. That’s wrong, man,” says Pryor.

Many of the people become angry when they realized the food being loaded up in dump trunks would be taken to a landfill.

“You could have took the food to the church, you could have took the food to the food bank, you could have took the food anywhere. You all just throwing the food away cause we hungry, we ain’t got nothing,” says Onlooker Cisro Wallace.

I hope churches are ready for the onslaught of need that is going to increasingly come knocking.

So, coming back to the first sentence of this post, in the midst of such cruel behavior by Republicans and bankers, why would I wish Mitt won the White House?

Because with Obama and Democrats like Max Baucus, the corporate consensus has its best shot at inflicting maximum pain on the tens of millions of people who desperately need what meager government assistance has been preserved from decades of attack.

Closer to home, I really hope the gamble of Montana Democrats last Friday hasn’t destroyed the slim chance of medicaid expansion happening for our state, because if it doesn’t happen, I think they will have to share some of the blame, or at least that is how Republicans will be able to spin it.

While same-day voter registration is critically important for a healthy democracy, and the top-two primary bill might cut into MT Dems libertarian ace-in-the-hole for big ticket races like Tester’s, I’m not sure watching how this plays out in court is going to benefit anyone from either party.

There is, despite the political polarization, a willingness to work for the broader betterment of Montanans. I was happy to see Adam Hertz, a Missoula councilperson, express his support for medicaid expansion on twitter, even though the context of the tweet contained criticism for how Democrats responded to Essman’s now infamous refusal to recognize the minority:

I’m 1 of the GOP who supports Medicaid exp but when I support something I use words & logic instead of tantrums #MTLeg

Montana Democrats pulled out all the stops to keep Republicans from eroding the electoral process in this state, even if doing so means blowing the chance to insure 70,000 people and adding 12,000 new jobs, and they are doing this while Obama leads Democrats into the economic doldrums of austerity with preemptive offerings of chained CPI and other spoils for the unaccountable ruling class.

Other legislative priorities that desperately need addressing include the “dismal” state of Montana’s public defender’s office. Failure to do so will almost guarantee lawsuits.

Same day voting matters as long as there are willing participants who want to engage in our political system. The way things are going, getting people to the voting booths will be an increasingly difficult sell.

Especially if you’re busy chasing dump trucks with perishable food items all the way to the landfill.

by lizard

This week’s poem comes from Stephen Dunn, a poet I’ve featured before. I picked up his book of poems titled Landscape at the End of the Century (W. W. Norton, 1991) today at the Book Exchange. The book’s new home is behind glass doors in one of two new towering shelves I bought at Ikea while on vacation.

Ah, but vacation is over, and the poem is a sort of creepy thought profile of a sociopath. Enjoy!



They wanted me to tell the truth,
so I said I’d lived among them
for years, a spy,
but all that I wanted was love.
They said they couldn’t love a spy.
Couldn’t I tell them other truths?
I said I was emotionally bankrupt,
would turn any of them in for a kiss.
I told them how a kiss feels
when it’s especially undeserved;
I thought they’d understand.
They wanted me to say I was sorry,
so I told them I was sorry.
They didn’t like it that I laughed.
They asked what I’d seen them do,
and what I do with what I know.
I told them: find out who you are
before you die.
Tell us, they insisted, what you saw.
I saw the hawk kill a smaller bird.
I said life is one long leave-taking.
They wanted me to speak
like a journalist. I’ll try, I said
I told them I could depict the end
of the world, and my hand wouldn’t tremble.
I said nothing’s serious except destruction.
They wanted to help me then.
They wanted me to share with them,
that was the word they used, share.
I said it’s bad taste
to want to agree with many people.
I told them I’ve tried to give
as often as I’ve betrayed.
They wanted to know my superiors,
to whom did I report?
I told them I accounted to no one,
that each of us is his own punishment.
If I love you, one of them cried out,
what would you give up?
There were others before you,
I wanted to say, and you’d be the one
before someone else. Everything, I said.

—Stephen Dunn

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