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Reclaiming Our Voices
Monday, September 19, 2011

 My letter to Congressman Paul Ryan, if you agree, fax him at 202-225-3393:

September 19, 2011,

The Honorable Paul Ryan

1233 Longworth HOB

Washington DC  20515


Dear Congressman Ryan,


My mother grew up in Wisconsin and I have cousins who live in Wisconsin.  My mother would be upset with what you are doing.


You want to know what class warfare is?  Class warfare is crushing collective bargaining.  Class warfare is privatizing Medicare so your wealthy friends in the private health insurance industry can make more money while crippling benefits for middle class Americans.  Class warfare is letting those responsible for the economic disaster in 2008 go away scot free to make more money, while the people their actions put out of work are still struggling to find work. 


Trickledown economics does not work.  We have had the Bush tax cuts primarily benefitting the wealthy for 10 years, where are the jobs?  You have seen the statistics.  During the Bush years, we had virtually no job growth, where we had some 20 million jobs during the Clinton years, when taxes were increased for the wealthy.  Trickledown economics, like you have proposed, is class warfare. 


Shame on you and other Republicans like you, who only play the “class warfare” card, to defend the wealthy and only when someone stands up for the middle class. 



William S. Gazitano

Posted by pencandle at 7:28 AM EDT
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Vote Democratic

The first casualty of this year’s midterm election has been accuracy.  Many inflamed voters have forgotten that the Wall Street bailout was started during the Bush administration with the support of Republican minority leaders in Congress.  The Auto bailout also started under the Bush Administration.  In both cases, the Obama Administration initiated greater accountability in both plans and both have paid back much of what was borrowed. 

The Recovery Act has saved jobs and prevented an even worse economic crisis.  Health Care Reform and Finance Reform have both added new consumer protections for average working Americans.  While Republicans obstruct and resort to divisive rhetoric of hate and fear, Democrats have been trying to solve problems.  The severity and complexity of these problems defy a quick fix.  Democrats deserve our patience and support during these difficult times.  

Posted by pencandle at 10:41 PM EDT
Support Michael Arcuri for the 24th District

One of the many reasons Republicans should be prevented from getting a majority in the House in 2010 is their threat to conduct many investigations with subpoena power.  Republicans have already abused the filibuster rule in the Senate, by preventing simple up or down votes on needed legislation and nominations.  Over 400 bills passed by the House are stalled in the Senate.  At a time of war and economic crisis, never has a minority party shown such partisan obstruction as the current Republican leadership. 

We all remember how Republicans abused their investigation power during the 90's with special prosecutor Ken Starr for several years and 50 million dollars.  While al Qaeda was planning an attack on the World Trade Center, Republicans tied up all three branches of Federal Government with a flimsy impeachment trial that they knew they couldn't win.  Later one of the House Managers admitted the whole charade was payback for Nixon having to resign under threat of impeachment. 


In the recent trumped up controversy about a proposed Muslim community center 2 blocks away from ground zero, the 24th District Congressional Republican candidate reversed himself, first supporting the community center, than turning against it, citing Republican talking points about "sensitivity".  While I disagree with our current Congressman suggesting the community center should be moved, he at least stated he was concerned for the family members of victims of and did not waiver. 

Congressmen Arcuri has shown an ability to vote independent of the President, and while I disagree with these votes, he does demonstrate character in voting for what he thinks is best.  Mr. Hanna is a decent local businessmen, but his ties to the Cato Institute suggests that he will be constrained to only consider a narrow ideological range of possible solutions to the problems we face as a nation.  His caving in to Republican talking points suggests he will vote in lock step with radicalized Republicans, who have obstructed progress over the past 20 months.  He will have to acquiesce to a radical right social agenda that has taken control of the Republican Party, and ignore science on critical issues like climate change.

Posted by pencandle at 10:17 PM EDT
Monday, July 26, 2010
Who can best address our economic woes?


There are two ways to balance our federal budget and work toward reducing our debt.  One is to increase revenue and the other is to decrease spending.  Increasing revenue can be accomplished by either increasing taxes or increasing the number paying taxes or a combination of both. 

While corporate media pundits have obsessed for the past year about the midterm elections of 2010 being a repeat of the 1994 midterms in which Republicans regain a majority in both houses, they ignore the differences between 1994 and 2010, such as the damaged brand of Republicans and their take over by extremists.  They also neglect to report on one of the most significant similarities. 

The most significant similarity has to do with taxes for the wealthy.  In 1993, a Democratic majority in Congress narrowly passed a tax increase for the wealthiest Americans.  In 2011, the tax cuts for the wealthy championed by the Bush II Administration are set to expire.  The theory is that tax cuts for the wealthy will stimulate the economy, create jobs and help decrease the deficit in the long run. 

However, during the Clinton years, 22.7 million jobs were created with higher taxes for the wealthy while only 1.1 million jobs were created during the Bush II years, when taxes were lower for the wealthy, according to Politifact Ohio.  During the Clinton years, we went from a budget deficit to a budget surplus, while the rich still got richer.  During the Bush II years, we went from a budget surplus to a gross deficit, not to mention a near economic disaster. 

What this means is, trickledown economics do not work.  In a global economy, writing a blank check to the wealthy and multi-national corporations allows them to invest in get rich quick schemes that risk economic failure for all, as well as cheap labor overseas and moving corporate headquarters beyond our borders to avoid any tax liability.  It does not create jobs in the USA.  Building a stronger middle class, by increasing jobs that pay a decent wage makes everyone better off, including the rich. 

Targeted tax cuts to the wealthy and the multi-national corporations for creating jobs in the USA, makes a lot more sense.  Short term deficit spending to help put people back to work, does result in increased revenues in the long run.  Just like President Clinton, President Obama has a plan to cut our deficit in half in 4 years.  President Clinton made good on this pledge and better.  If President Obama is given the chance, he can do the same. 

Yes, President Clinton accomplished his goal with a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, or perhaps, in spite of it.  But today’s Republicans are more biased and extreme and less cooperative than the Republicans of the 90’s.  Senator John McCain, the former maverick from Arizona, is a clear example of someone who has abandoned his bipartisan tendencies in order to appease a largely agitated, misinformed radical right base.  Governor Crist of Florida was vilified for supporting the stimulus plan and driven out of the Republican party. 

So, independent voters who hold most of the swing votes in 2010, are you listening?  Do you want to vote for the what history has taught us, or do you want to side with misinformed corporate media pundits?  Do you want to give change a chance, or do you want to take us back to the failed policies of the Bush II era? 

As for Democrats and liberals are concerned, we cannot afford to sit this one out, just because change has not gone far enough fast enough.  We cannot afford to go back now. 

Posted by pencandle at 3:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010 3:19 AM EDT
Saving our election process will save our democracy.


There are at least 5 steps that are needed to fix our electoral process.  Some of these were stated on a recent episode of the Dylan Radigan show on MSNBC. 


  1.  Getting elected cost too much money.  The amount of time needed to fund raise for advertising undermines our public officials from focusing on the increasingly complex issues of our time.  Ours is the only free society that allows our electoral process to be corrupted by the need for political fundraising that is mostly spent for ads that are usually attacking opponents versus stating what the candidate will do if elected.  Thus, public funding of elections is necessary along with free air time for candidates to state what they will do regarding the issues of our time, if they are elected.  We need to make sure voters have access to an unbiased source of information about what a candidate stands for and what they would do if elected. 
  2. High paid lobbyists have too much influence over the legislative process.  The influence of the wealthy few and large multi-national corporations grossly outweigh the influence of everyday citizens.  If corporations are now considered to have the same rights as an individual, then shouldn’t their contributions for supporting a candidate be limited to the same amount of any individual?  There should be a several year interval between when a publicly elected official can then become a lobbyist for a company whose nest they feathered while they were in office and vice versa. 
  3. The certification of an election should be certified by a bipartisan committee in each state with representatives from both major parties and independents.  The party in power of any state should not be the final arbiter in any election dispute.  In Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, there were substantial questions about how the vote was conducted.  Yet, partisan Secretaries of State in both States dismissed those concerns and certified a doubtful election result.  Similarly, there should be a bipartisan committee in each state to define congressional districts of those states, so the party in power cannot  gerrymander districts, to the advantage of their party getting a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. 
  4. The voting machines themselves have to be beyond suspicion, again monitored by a bipartisan process.  They should require a paper receipt for voters and an ability to complete a recount, when needed.  If we cannot trust the outcome of an election, due to the problems associated with suspect voting machines, we will lose our credibility.
  5. We need to increase the percentage of eligible voters who participate in elections.  Short of making voting mandatory with a fine for non-participation, we can increase participation with verifiable mail in ballots, that allow voters to review accurate un-biased information about the candidates, their stand on the issues and what they would do if elected. 

This gets back to point number one.  We need a level playing field for candidates and some common sense rules of the road for debating the relevant policies instead of demeaning opponents. 

Posted by pencandle at 2:57 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010 3:21 AM EDT
The corporate / tea party nexus continues.



On a recent TV program, someone said they were inspired to join the tea party movement when Obama told Joe the plumber he would like to see us spread the wealth.  In case anyone has not been paying attention, the trend has been for the rich to get richer while the rest of us have seen our income stagnate.  While Republican millionaires in the US Senate refuse to allow a vote on extending unemployment insurance payments, they want to extend tax cuts for the wealthy. Do you really want to give Congress back to people who think like that?

We now live in a 21st Century version of the Joe McCarthy era with shades of George Orwell irony.  When demagogues like Rush Limbaugh & Glen Beck liken those who were duly elected to help the middle class to Hitler and Stalin, and Glen Beck claims to be the spokesman for Martin Luther King's dream even as he makes unfounded accusations racism toward leading African Americans being racist, there is a profound scourge of hate mongering, race bating misinformation.   Apparently, folks like Rush, Glen, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman & Tom Tancredo did not get the memo from Abraham Lincoln that "united we stand, divided we fall". 

Rush & Glen stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars by selling their divisive lies of hate & fear. Sarah & Michelle question the loyalty of Americans who disagree with them, and for that they are rewarded with excessive media attention.  To paraphrase Rodney King, why can't we all just disagree?  Why does it always have to be about character assassination?  Sure there are some liberals who say some hateful things, but they are greatly outnumbered and out matched by the crude, insensitive rhetoric with veiled calls for violence perpetrated by extremists on the right, who are then given credence in the corporate media.   

What stopped Joe McCarthy were people like Margaret Chase Smith calling for him to be censured. Rush & Glen & others like them are getting rich dividing working class Americans against each other over wedge issues, while some of the wealthy few laugh all the way to the bank as they buy public officials to pave their way to more greed & irresponsibility. And so we end up with conservative apologists for the wealthy few, telling us that raising the minimum wage will cause inflation while corporate CEO's see their salary and bonuses skyrocket even if they run their corporation into the ground and cause the layoffs of many working class people.  Why aren't their salary increases recognized as inflationary as well as often undeserved.

Yes, there is a method to the apparent madness of Limbaugh, Beck and others.  There are some in the media who call out these merchants of division, fear & hate for what they really are. It is too kind to call them entertainers, when they are grossly overpaid to keep us at each other's throat, and divert real discourse about policy issues. 

My message to Rush & Glen & Sarah & Michelle & others like them is simple. I will never accuse you of being un-American, but I will never let you call me un-American. I am a proud liberal.  I do not have a disease.  I am just as patriotic as you. I have as much right to my beliefs as you have for yours. Neither of us should be ridiculed for what we sincerely believe to be best for our country, but when you speak inaccurately and with divisive intent, you threaten your own credibility and put the nation at risk. 

And to quote one of your own, "out of respect for our troops, quit making things up".  

Posted by pencandle at 2:55 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010 3:25 AM EDT
Saturday, July 17, 2010
We can't wait to be inspired.

Republicans have blocked the agenda the change a majority of us supported in 2008, with unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in the US Senate.  When change is finally legislated, it has to be watered down to get 60 votes, sometimes to a point of less effectiveness.  This may be part of a strategy to demoralize that majority from voting this November. 


John Boehner, House Minority Leader, calls for the repeal of financial reform and a yearlong moratorium on new regulations, to give big banks and big business “some breathing space”, as if the 8 years no regulation by the Bush Administration was not enough “breathing space”.  Perhaps, the better analogy is they were “given enough rope to hang themselves” and the rest of us. 


Sharon Angle, running against Harry Reid in the US Senate, blames Reid for the increase in unemployment.  Then, she says it would not be her job as US Senator to create jobs.  Congressman Peter King says Republicans should not provide a comprehensive plan of what they would do, if they had the majority, because the media would only scrutinize it. 


The depression lasted 10 years, our current problems won’t be fixed in less than 2 years, but we are headed in the right direction.  Those of us who supported change can’t wait to be inspired by a speech.  We have to inspire ourselves to vote for continued hope this November and not let the voices of hate and fear take us backwards. 

Posted by pencandle at 9:22 PM EDT
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Tea Party is not a Populist movement

When Rand Paul won his primary election, he said "I have a message from the tea party, we've come to take our government back".  But, for whom does he plan to take our government back?  Within a week of his victory, he sided with BP regarding their oil spill saying "accidents will happen" and he criticized the Obama Administration for putting their heel on BP's throat.  Sharron Angle, another identified tea party candidate for the US Senate, called for less regulation of the oil industry, in spite of the oil spill. 


The tea party movement is not a populist movement.  It was funded by corporate special interests, who knew what to say, to upset some sincere citizens into doing their bidding.  With all their good intentions, the tea party movement would take our government back to less banking and corporate over sight that led to the problems we are facing now.  Recent events, like the mining disaster and the Gulf oil spill demonstrate that the fossil fuel industry needs greater oversight as we transition to cleaner renewable energy sources.


The media likes to say that voters are angry this year.  But we are not all angry about the same thing.  Many of us are angry at corporate apologists in congress, many of whom are Republican, who have stood in the way of the change that a majority of us voted for in 2008. 


Whether it is protecting the banks, the insurance companies or the fossil fuel industry, we cannot afford to be fooled by clever campaigns that will take our government back to the failed policies of less corporate regulation and less taxes that primarily for the wealthy. 

Posted by pencandle at 1:14 AM EDT
Saturday, May 15, 2010
May Day Rant - Outrages of the Week - May 14

Here are this week’s outrages from the news, just the ones I am aware of.

1. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski blocks a bill that would raise the cap on damages an oil company can pay from 75 million to 10 billion. Her excuse, shared by Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana earlier this week, is that this would destroy those “Mom & Pop” small oil exploration companies. Keep in mind this is a cap, or the most one would have to pay. Those so called “Mom & Pop” companies by their very definition, would not be big enough to spill as much oil as BP / Transocean / Halliburton can spill, so their assessment would be less. Lies! Both Senators receive campaign funds from oil companies. This is why we have got to get rid of corporate influence in government, along with those shills in various levels of government that are bought and paid for by corporations. Let’s say thanks to

Lisa (murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact) and

Mary (landrieu.senate.gov/about/contact.cfm).

2. Senator Kerry & Lieberman introduced a climate change bill that gives subsidies to record profit making oil companies to do oil exploration. The same people who want to “drill baby, drill” don’t want cap and trade that would tax corporate carbon pollution and make renewable energy sources more competitive. Yet, we give subsidies to oil companies. Why not give them to renewable energy sources instead. Go figure. That is the price of passing a climate change bill. We have to pay off the corporate shills, to get a modest climate change bill that probably won’t do enough. All the off shore oil exploration on our continental shelves will at best reduce the cost of gas by 3 cents over 20 years. There is not enough oil on these shelves to significantly increase the world oil supply. Given the cost and risk versus a negligible benefit, why are we doing this? 3. Senators Grassley and Wyden’s bill to end secret “holds” on bills a nominations was stopped by Senator Jim “It will be his Waterloo, it will break him (Obama)” even though he says he agrees with it. Among other things, these secret holds are used by Senators to extort favors and earmarks that will help them get re-elected.

Let’s say thanks to Jim:


4. All of these instances in the Senator show how one Senator can stop progress for no apparent reason.

5. Arizona! You thought their racial profiling was out of line. According to one poll, 60% of Americans agree with the law and using racial profiling for security reasons. 60% of Americans also think law will result in racial profiling. There probably was a time when a majority of Americans believed in a ban on inter-racial marriage and believed in segregation. Of course, in all of these cases, these folks who approve of such things haven’t read the constitution.

6. But what Arizona has done now is even worse. They have banned ethnic studies in their state. What happened to freedom of speech? Where is the tea party outrage? Rick Sanchez of CNN tried to spin this by saying that one course curriculum used the term “La Raza”, which he thought was too political, like the term “black power”. La Raza means “the people”. You know, like “we, the people . . .” Rick is the one who was voluntarily tased on the news. He hasn’t made much sense since. But, let’s say thanks to him, anyway at http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form4.html?149

Why isn’t Glenn Beck ranting about how this law is like what they did in the USSR? Let’s thank the Governor of Arizona for once again demonstrating courageous leadership, by pandering to our ignorance and fear rather than the facts.

7. Last, the corporate media can’t let go of their gloom and doom predictions for Democrats in November 2010, any more than they can let go of Sarah Palin being a viable candidate for President in 2012. 70% of Americans don’t think she is qualified to be President including a majority of conservatives and Republicans, but don’t let that get in the way.

8. As for 2010, both CNN and MSNBC like to site one portion of a poll that says 52% of Americans think Obama is more invested in helping people versus corporation, but only 37% think the same way about Democrats in Congress. There are a few glaring examples of Democratic corporate shills in Congress, Ben Nelson of Nebraska who opposed health care reform to help his Health Insurance Company supporters and he opposes finance reform to help his big investment interests. What they leave out is that only 21% of Americans think Republicans are more invested in helping people versus corporations. The corporate media leaves this tidbit out, because it gets in the way of their mantra that “people are angry, and they want change, so they will vote Republican”. Once again, this is not 1994, it may look a lot like 1984 (the novel), but Republicans were respected in 1994 and offered a plan, albeit that their real plan was to protect corporate interests.

9. Finally, to watch Lewis Black lampoon Glen Beck’s Nazi Tourettes, go to:


HURRY UP! It’s a scream.

Posted by pencandle at 5:59 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, May 15, 2010 6:07 AM EDT
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Holding the Private Sector Accountable

In recent months, we have seen at least three examples of corporate arrogance and irresponsibility.  Just as health care reform was on life support, health insurance companies ruthlessly raised their rates, and congress found the courage to do something rather than nothing.  Recently, while finance reform was being debated, it is clear that at least one financial institution sold a product they recognized to be substandard, so they bet against their own product.  Now, just as energy reform seemed dead unless it increased off shore oil drilling, we are in the midst of one of the worst oil spills in our history. 


In all of these cases, we have learned that wealthy corporate interests cannot be trusted to regulate themselves.  Health insurance companies have found loop holes to not insure their customers, just when they need it the most.  Financial institutions will take undue risks to make great profits, knowing the government will bail them out to avoid a collapse of our economic system.  Oil companies were allowed to regulate themselves in recent years, so they failed to install a $500,000 device that would have averted the disaster in the Gulf. 


One way our federal government is broken, is how much our elected and appointed officials are beholding to corporate wealthy interests in terms of campaign contributions and the influence of wealthy lobbyists.  The result is watered down legislation that does not fully reform these systems as much as they need it.  One solution would be to limit this influence, by having publicly financed campaigns and a cap on how much can be spent by lobbyists.  The trick is to get that passed in Congress.  In the meantime, it is up to us voters to hold the private sector accountable by demanding meaningful reform from our elected representatives. 

Posted by pencandle at 3:34 AM EDT

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