From my inbox: Stop the FACT Act

Knowing ALEC is behind this is why I am posting, word-for-word, an email I received today regarding the FACT Act.

Hi Blue Lyon Blogger,

My name is Susan Vento, and I am writing to you about a cause very close to my heart. My husband, Bruce, was a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives until October 10th, 2000 when he died of pleural mesothelioma––a rare disease caused by asbestos exposure. Recently, asbestos companies are using their political influence to push a new bill in Congress, led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is called the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act.” In short, this bill would delay and, in some cases, deny justice to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases. The FACT Act marks the beginning of a state-by-state strategy to dismantle the rights of victims. We must take action to protect these victims before it’s too late, like it was for my husband.

In the name of so-called “transparency,” the bill places burdensome reporting requirements on victims applying to the bankruptcy trusts. Yet, the companies who knowingly caused the asbestos exposure have no comparable requirements. The legislation is a one-sided and unfair effort designed to harm those who have already been injured. You can find more information on the bill here. This legislation is not an effort to make the legal system more responsive. Instead, it is merely the latest attempt by companies  and individuals like the Koch brothers to avoid responsibility for their wrongdoings.

Because of your influence and experience in the political blogosphere, I am asking for your help. I am a spokesperson for the Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign. The ACVRC is a national campaign dedicated to protecting the rights and privacy of cancer victims and their families.  I hope that you will join our fight to defeat this unfair legislation and the potential precedent it sets. Here are a couple of simple steps you can take to make a difference:

1.     Sign the petition to stop legislation that threatens cancer victims!

Go to www.CancerVictimsRights.org/take-action/sign-the-petition/ and follow the instructions to sign the petition at the bottom of the page.

2.     Spread the word!

Share your thoughts on the bill and our cause with your blog audience. Place a link to our petition on your blog to allow your readers to sign and showcase their public support––every signature matters!

Thank you in advance for your time. Individuals and families affected by cancer already have enough on their plate. With your help, the ACVRC is committed to fighting legislation that further burdens them.

Best,

Susan

 

Cross-Post: Good Luck, Mr. President

Cross-posted from The Neophyte Photographer.

It is Inauguration Day in the United States.

For all the silliness of the election season, and regardless of the winner, I like inauguration day and the peaceful transition of power it symbolizes (or in this case, the assent of the people to the continuation of the current administration).  I’ve got a number of friends who are there and I hope they have a great time.

I took these shots of the White House last March.  You can see the lights on in the Oval Office and I wonder if they are on all the time, or only when the President is in residence. I’m pretty sure President Obama was in D.C. at the time, so seeing the lights on was kind of cool.

UPDATED to add: Okay, now I’m feeling rather foolish. I’ve been operating under the misapprehension that the Oval Office is located in the White House. It is not. Rather it is located in the West Wing, a separate building on the White House grounds.

Reprise: Go Ahead, Raise our Taxes

Let’s just do it.  Let’s just go over the fiscal cliff slope.  

The Bush tax cuts were designed to expire in ten years. For everyone. We’ve gone two years beyond that expiration date and it has cost the country dearly.

Before anyone starts talking about cutting Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or closing loopholes or what-have-you, let’s just push the re-set button. Let all the Bush tax cuts expire. End the Payroll Tax “holiday.”  All of it. 

I posted this back in November of 2010. It is timely and bears repeating:

We’re willing to bite the bullet along with the fat cats. Seriously.

I looked at our joint tax return from last year and going back to 2001 rates would mean paying an extra $102.63 in taxes between the two of us every two weeks. Basically $50 a week. At least as best as I can figure. That appears to be the maximum we would owe.

That’s the sacrifice we are willing to make.

Sweetie and I are fortunate. When it comes to household income, we land in that upper bar. Barely. But if Sweetie were to lose his job, we’d immediately plunge down to the bar second from the bottom.

We know how to live with less, but we can’t live with nothing and we have never felt so job insecure in our lives. If either one of us were to  lose our job today, there is nothing comparable in terms of income out there for us. It’s a fact.

We’ve had ten years of Bush’s tax cuts and really, what has it gotten for the vast majority of us? Stagnant wages and job losses.  Worries that Social Security is on the chopping block. Less social safety nets. Less police and fire, less education for our kids, pot-holed roads.

If tax cuts create jobs, then why have we lost millions upon millions of them? If tax cuts generate tax revenue, then why are states and local municipalities slashing their budgets to the bone, laying off employees, requiring wage cuts, freezes, furlough days, cutting vital services, and on and on?

We can live without that extra $50.00  every week.

You guys have had your chance.

“Private Industry” would never have tackled this

Private industry only jumps in when there is a chance to make money. Basic research, just for research’s sake? Not on your life.

The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases,

Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role

 

 

True Religion: Rick and Mitt edition

Rick Santorum:

“People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad,” Santorum said, “but paying $900 for a  drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.” (ABC News)

Aside from the iPad red herring, I am fed up with this straw man that people expect “free” medical care.   We all know health care costs money. What we are saying is that the inability of some to pay for their health care should not preclude them from receiving it.  By Rick’s reasoning, a person dying of thirst or hunger has no right to food or drink unless they can pay for it, regardless of how much extra food and water others may have.  Aside to Rick:  Not everyone can afford an iPad. An iPad is what is commonly referred to as a luxury. Health care is not a luxury. It is a right.

More Rick:

“Suffering, if you’re a Christian, suffering is a part of life. And it’s not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life … There are all different ways to suffer. One way to suffer is through lack of food and shelter and there’s another way to suffer which is lack of dignity and hope and there’s all sorts of ways that people suffer and it’s not just tangible, it’s also intangible and we have to consider both.” (Link)

How very Mother Teresa of him:

“The suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering.”

I’ve got nothing.

Mitt Romney:

“Unemployment benefits, I think they’ve gone on a long, long, long time. We have to find ways to reduce our spending on a lot of the anti-poverty programs and unemployment programs. But I would far rather see a reform of our unemployment system, to allow people to have a personal account which they’re able to draw from as opposed to having endless unemployment benefits.” ( Iowa debate,  August 2011 – Link)

What Mitt really means is that he doesn’t think employers should have to pay into the Unemployment Insurance fund.  As far as those “personal accounts?” Many people have  a personal account they can draw on in the event of an emergency. It’s called a savings account. Of course, one would need to have held a job that actually paid enough to salt away some money every paycheck.  Even if one had been able to do so, it’s pretty much a given that said savings account would eventually run dry in the event of long-term unemployment (which accounts for 42.9% of the unemployed. (link – pdf)

Clueless. Absolutely clueless.

More Mitt:

“The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug. We have got to fight it like the poison it is.”  (Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 7, 2008)

Of course, always left out of this argument for “individual responsibility” is the fact that single people with no children are rarely, if ever, granted welfare benefits.  Unemployment is required to be paid for 26 weeks, with extensions up to 99 weeks authorized by Congress.

Mitt and the rest of the Republicans ignore the fact that welfare pays far less than even a minimum wage full-time job, so what is the incentive exactly?

Regarding the “dependency” meme:  I once sold cars for a living.  I didn’t last long.  While I made one “full commission” sale (to a drug dealer!), most were nickel and dime sales wherein my commission was a measly $50 per vehicle.  One of the things the car dealership did do was pay their sales staff minimum wage against their commission. This was done to prevent, and I quote the sales manager,  “sales people from fainting from hunger at their desks.”  Were we “depending” on our employer to keep us alive even though we weren’t “productive” sales people? Yes indeed, and the employer saw the wisdom in it!  Needless to say, as a single mom trying to house and feed my daughter and myself, this wasn’t going to cut it. I went back to waiting tables where I was paid minimum wage and “depended” on the generosity of my customers to make up the difference. I certainly wasn’t getting it from my employer.

But I digress.

You know, even if they don’t have compassion for the poor because they’re not wired that way, 2 out of 3 of their Bosses have made it pretty damned clear as to their expectations.

From the comments at this post at Pharyngula:

One has to admit the Bible sometimes has useful invective.

1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
3 What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
4 Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
or fall among the slain.

That would be Isaiah 10: 1-4 (NIV)

Then there is what Jesus had to say:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

That would be Matthew 25: 34-45 (NIV)

See also my previous post: Are we a Christian nation?

And while we’re at it, let’s defend secularism at home too

From my inbox:

For Immediate Release, 27 October 2011

76 secularists and human rights campaigners, including Mina Ahadi, Nawal El Sadaawi, Marieme Helie Lucas, Hameeda Hussein, Ayesha Imam, Maryam Jamil, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin, Farida Shaheed, Fatou Sow, and Stasa Zajovic have signed on to a Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa.
 
In light of the recent pronouncements of the unelected Libyan Transitional Council for ‘Sharia laws’, the signatories of the manifesto vehemently oppose the hijacking of the protests by Islamism or US-led militarism and unequivocally support the call for freedom and secularism made by citizens and particularly women in the region.
 
Secularism is a minimum precondition for a free and secular Middle East and for the recognition of women’s rights and equality.
 
We call on world citizens to support this important campaign by signing on to our petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/world-citizens-defend-a-free-and-secular-middle-east-and-north-africa.
 
We also ask that supporters click ‘like’ on our Facebook page to support this important campaign: http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Free-and-Secular-Middle-East-and-North-Africa/271164176261820#!/pages/A-Free-and-Secular-Middle-East-and-North-Africa/271164176261820 and Tweet: #freesecularMENA in support of a free and secular Middle East and North Africa.
 
VERSION FRANÇAISE CI DESSOUS
FRENCH, ARABIC AND PERSIAN VERSIONS BELOW
 
Manifesto for a Secular Middle East and North Africa
 
The 2009 protests in Iran followed by the Arab Spring have the potential to herald a new dawn for the people of the region and the world. The protests have clearly shown that people in the region, like people everywhere, want to live 21st century lives.
 
We, the undersigned, emphasise their modern and human dimension and wholeheartedly welcome this immense and historical development. We are vehemently opposed to their hijacking by Islamism or US-led militarism and support the call for a free and secular Middle East and North Africa made by citizens and particularly women in the region.
 
Secularism is a minimum precondition for the freedom and equality of all citizens and includes:
1. Complete separation of religion from the state.
2. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes.
3. Separation of religion from the educational system.
4. Freedom of religion and atheism as private beliefs.
5. Prohibition of sex apartheid and compulsory veiling.
 
SIGNATORIES
 
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, International Committees against Stoning and Execution, Iran/Germany
Marieme Helie Lucas, Sociologist, Founder and former international coordinator of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and founder of Secularism Is A Women’s Issue, Algeria/France
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Iran/UK
Shahla Abghari, University Professor, Iran/USA
Siavash Abghari, Esmail Khoi Foundation, Iran/USA
Ahlam Akram, Palestinian Peace and Human Rights Writer and Campaigner, Palestine/UK
Sargul Ahmad, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Iraq/Canada
Mahin Alipour, Coordinator, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Iran/Sweden
Reza Alkrami, Human Rights Activist, Iran/USA
Farideh Arman, Coordinator, Committee to Defend Women’s Rights, Iran/Sweden
Sultana Begum, Regional Gender Adviser, Diakonia Asia, Bangladesh
Djemila Benhabib, Writer, Algeria/Canada
Codou Bop, Journalist and Director of GREFELS, Dakar, Senegal
Ariane Brunet, co-founder Urgent Action Fund, Québec, Canada
Micheline Carrier, Sisyphe, Québec, Canada
Patty Debonitas, Iran Solidarity, UK
Denise Deliège Femmes En Noir, Belgium
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Sweden
Fanny Filosof, Femmes en Noir, Belgium
Mersedeh Ghaedi, New Channel TV Programme host, Iran/Norway
Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois, Dakar, Senegal
Laura Guidetti, Marea Feminist Magazine, Italy
Zeinabou Hadari, Centre Reines Daura, Niger
Anissa Hélie, Historian, Algeria/France/USA
Rohini Henssman, Human Rights Activist, India
Hameeda Hossein, Chairperson Ain o Salish Kendra, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Khayal Ibrahim, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Iraq/Canada
Leo Igwe, Founder, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
Ayesha Imam, Women’s Human Rights and Democracy Activist, Nigeria/Senegal
International Campaign in Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran, Sweden
International Committee against Execution, Germany
International Committee against Stoning, Germany
Iran Solidarity, Iran/UK
Maryam Jamil, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Iraq
Sultana Kamal, Executive Director, Ain o Salish Kendra and Chairperson Transparency International, Bangladesh
Abbas Kamil, Unity Against Unemployment in Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web, India
Akbar Karimian, Human Rights Activist, Iran/UK
Cherifa Kheddar, President of Djazairouna, Algeria
Monica Lanfranco, Marea Feminist Magazine, Italy
Houzan Mahmoud, Representative of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq/UK
Nahla Elgaali Mahmoud, Biologist, Sudan/UK
Anwar Mir Sattari, Human rights Activist, Iran/Belgium
Amena Mohsin, Professor, Dept. International Relations Dhaka University, Bangladesh
Khawar Mumtaz, Director Shirkat Gah, Lahore, Pakistan
Taslima Nasrin, Writer and Activist, Bangladesh
U. M. Habibun Nessa, President, Naripokkho, Bangladesh
Partow Nooriala, Poet, Writer and Human Rights Activist, Iran/USA
Asghar Nosrati, Human Rights Activist, Iran/Sweden
One Law for All, UK
Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters, UK
Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society, Iran/UK
Protagora, Zagreb, Croatia
Hassan Radwan, Activist, Egypt/UK
Mary Jane Real, Women’s Human Rights Coalition, Manila, The Philippines
Edith Rubinstein, Femmes en Noir, Belgium
Nawal El Sadaawi, Writer, Egypt
Fahimeh Sadeghi, Coordinator, International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Iran/Canada
Gita Sahgal, Director, Centre for Secular Space, UK
Nina Sankari, Secularist and Feminist, Poland
Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (International Network)
Aisha Lee Shaheed, London, UK
Farida Shaheed, Shirkat Gah, Lahore, Pakistan
Siba Shakib, Filmmaker, Writer and Activist, Iran/USA
Sohaila Sharifi, Women’s Rights Campaigner, Iran/UK
Issam Shukri, Head, Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq, Iraq/Canada
Southall Black Sisters, UK
Fatou Sow, Sociologist CNRS, Dakar, Senegal
Afsaneh Vahdat, Coordinator, International Campaign for Women’s Rights in Iran, Iran/Sweden
Lino Veljak, Professor of Philosophy, Zagreb University, Croatia
Fauzia Viqar, Director Advocacy and Communications, Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, Lahore, Pakistan
Anne Marie Waters, One Law for All, UK
Vivienne Wee, anthropologist, feminist and human rights activist, Singapore and Hong Kong, China
Women In Black, Belgrade, Serbia
Sara Zaker, Theatre Director, Bangladesh
Stasa Zajovic, spokesperson Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia

Lovely.The Military-Entertainment Complex

No, you weren’t imagining it.

David Sirota:

As Mace Neufeld, the producer of the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October,” later recounted to Variety, studios in the post-“Top Gun” era instituted an unstated rule telling screenwriters and directors to get military cooperation “or forget about making the picture.” Economics drives that directive, Time magazine reported in 1986. “Without such billion-dollar props, producers [have to] spend an inordinate amount of time and money searching for substitutes” and therefore might not be able to make the movie at all, the magazine noted.

Emboldened by Hollywood’s obsequiousness, military officials became increasingly blunt about how they deploy the carrot of subsidized hardware and the stick of denied access to get what they want. Strub described the approval process to Variety in 1994: “The main criteria we use is . . . how could the proposed production benefit the military . . . could it help in recruiting [and] is it in sync with present policy?”

 

Meaningless gestures shouldn’t be compensated either, but…

Dean Heller is an idiot. I just received this via email.

Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has introduced the “No Budget, No Pay Act,” a bill that requires Members of Congress to pass a budget in order to receive their salary. 

“Clearly, Washington is broken. It’s been more than 800 days since Congress executed one of its most basic responsibilities, passing a budget. We wouldn’t be debating government spending today if Congress had done its job when it was supposed to.  Nevadans work hard for their paychecks. For Congress to think they are held to a different standard than the rest of America is insulting to taxpayers. If Congress doesn’t do its job, then Members shouldn’t get paid,” Senator Heller said.

Heller’s bill requires Members of Congress to pass a concurrent budget resolution by the beginning of any fiscal year.  Retroactive pay for any period of time covered by this provision of law would be prohibited. 

Prior to introducing this as a stand-alone bill, Heller introduced this legislation in the Senate as an amendment to S. 1323. 

Hey, what’s not to like? No workie, no payee.  Right? Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Ah, red meat for the masses.
 
To begin with, Heller needs brush up on his U.S. Constitution. The 27th amendment is as follows:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Further, while a budget hasn’t been passed, I offer that the Congress is indeed still “working.” They are still holding hearings and committee meetings, holding votes, meeting with constituents, etc, etc, etc. The budget isn’t the only thing Congress does.  This isn’t to say that I’m satisfied with their job performance, but there is an answer to that come November 2012.

Finally, does Dean Heller really think that the millionaires in Congress are going to miss their base Congressional pay? Really?

I have a better idea for Senator Heller. How’s about he introduce a constitutional amendment requiring term limits for U.S. Representatives and Senators? And while he’s at it, introduce a bill requiring public financing of all federal elections. That might actually do some good. 

Forget the grandstanding, Senator.