The budget proposal put forth by Paul Ryan is a vicious and cruel all-out attack on everyone under the age of 55, but the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that the Ryan plan proposes would be felt acutely by women, who make up more than half of the beneficiaries of both programs, and women retire closer to the poverty line than men do. Women who are alone, who either never married or who are divorced or widowed and never remarried would be particularly vulnerable.
The attack on Medicare is one that rallies everyone. Not everyone over 55 is a psychopath who couldn’t care less so long as they get theirs. I honestly think that Paul Ryan was counting on people over 55, the largest republican voting bloc out there, not giving a damn so long as they got to keep theirs. I think he is so steeped in Randianism that he was taken aback by the pushback he got from people who actually care about their kids and their younger siblings and everyone else who paid in all their adult lives and stand to get rogered roundly if Ryan’s scheme sees the light of day.
The CBO, the non-partisan number-crunching office of Congress, estimates that the Ryan scheme would double the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses of seniors to $12,000 per year. That would leave grandma eating catfood in the homeless shelter. On average, female seniors have an annual income of only $14,000. Of that annual income, about $12,000 comes from Social Security. (Could you live on $2000 per year?)
Here is the bottom line: Ryan’s plan would amount to transfering the entire monthly Social Security benefit for female seniors to private health insurance companies.
I can’t possibly sum it up any more succinctly than Senator Barbara Boxer did when she said “This is a sick proposal,” during a press conference with other Senate Democrats last week.
As bad as that is, the assault on Medicaid is even worse. Women comprise about 70% of all Medicaid beneficiaries, the Medicaid program has been demonized and branded as welfare, as “free” healthcare for “those people.” The right-wing social conservatives have been very successful in projecting the face of Medicaid as an inner city “welfare mother” with several children, presumably with different fathers. That is the implication, anyway, when GOP politicians dismiss Medicaid as a progenitor of promiscuity. But in reality, most Medicaid recipients are elderly or profoundly disabled people in nursing homes, and the idea of making Medicaid a block grant that states could use to deliver healthcare as they saw fit would only make matters worse. States have already mucked up their end of the joint federal-state program, and block grants would make matters far worse.
The CBO estimates that Republicans’ proposed plan to block-grant Medicaid would reduce federal program expenditures by 35 percent by 2022 and by 49 percent in 2030 relative to current law. In return, states would have greater flexibility to restructure Medicaid benefits.
How governors would actually use this flexibility is another matter. Medicaid is flexible right now. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that about 60 percent of state Medicaid spending consists of expenditures to cover people or to reimburse services that are not required under federal law.
Given Medicaid’s low per-person cost and its relatively restrained projected cost growth, there’s little room to comfortably cut. Safety-net services are already shoestring operations. Under-funded and stressed, they have many shortcomings. There is no way to meet the above spending reduction targets without shifting costs and risks onto the states, covering markedly fewer people and services, or further underpaying Medicaid providers.
No one can firmly say how states would respond to the reduced federal support. I fear that’s precisely the point. Block grants provide both states and the federal government with useful political cover to cut important benefits. If a particular state eliminates Medicaid home care services or by dropping the working poor from coverage, Congressional Republicans can say: “Don’t blame us. That’s what this state chose to do.” Meanwhile governors can say, with equal justification: “Don’t blame us. We’re doing the best we can, given limited federal resources.”
Do you wonder to whom the care of those elderly and disabled people would fall if Medicaid went away?
I can tell you who it would fall to — it would fall to women, mostly in their forties and fifties, women would have to leave the workplace to care for their elderly parents or disabled siblings or children, high-need individuals whose nursing home care would no longer be paid for.
This in turn would reduce the amount of Social Security benefits those women would receive upon retirement, to the point that these women would end up paying every single penny of their retirement benefits, for which women worked all their adult lives to private companies because Medicare is gone.
And so it goes.
Yes, there is a war on women, and it isn’t just being waged against those in their childbearing years.
They really are out to get us all. And no, I’m not paranoid. It’s only paranoia when the threat is imaginary, and this one is not; it is quite real.
One day after Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) stirred controversy by withholding funds for tornado relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took the extraordinary step of declaring Rep. Cantor a disaster area.
Within hours of the declaration, FEMA officials were dispatched to assess the damage to Mr. Cantor’s status as a human being capable of empathy.
“I’ve seen a lot of hurricanes and tornados, but this is something new,” said FEMA spokesman Tracy Klugian. “Rep. Cantor appears to have been caught up in a moral vacuum.”
While concerned FEMA officials looked on, the morally ravaged House Majority Leader took to the floor of the House to make the case for denying funds to repair himself.
Okay, sure, this is from the Borowitz Report, and I didn’t tell you that in advance. Just thought you might appreciate exercising your satire sensor. How long did it take before you knew?
Mitch McConnell is continuing with his gig singing backup on the Paul Ryan Roadmap to Ruin tour, telling Fox news Sunday yesterday that Ryan’s scheme is “very sensible” and will “save Medicare.” He then trotted out the discredited “death panels” BS, saying that the ACA will empower “a board that would ration health care,” before adding “Let’s just stipulate that nobody’s trying to throw grandma off the cliff,” alluding to an ad run by an “independent” interest group against Jane Corwin in the recent New York 26th Congressional Districe special election.
Let’s unpack what McConnell is asserting, shall we?
McConnell seems to be implying that rationing is not occuring now, when it most certainly is, in every healthcare delivery system, everywhere. For starters, the uninsured are subject to the harshest rationing of all. If they can’t pay cash, they don’t get healthcare.
People who are insured have been self-rationing as a result of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. So of course the insurance companies are whining that they need rate increases because the day is coming when their policy holders will actually use their insurance is surely looming, and then they won’t have record profits any longer.
And of course, everyone who is fortunate enough to have insurance knows that rationing occurs every time you go to the doctor. If you buy insurance and have a pre-existing condition, there is no coverage for that condition for a specified waiting period, if ever. You also know that you can’t just walk in and demand procedures. You have to get preauthorization letters to see specialists, who then have to get the authorization from your insurance company before they can perform any procedure deemed necessary and appropriate.
And pity the poor soul who turns up with a serious condition that requires long term or intesive treatment. They will spend all their time and energy fighting for the care they need to survive. What is this if not rationing?
Or consider lifetime caps. A million dollar lifetime cap is pretty standard. Now consider the family whose seven year old child gets cancer. It can easily happen that such a child will reach that cap in two or three years. Then the family that is probably on the hook for 20% of every charge the child has incurred face paying cash for all future care for that child, unless they are so financially wiped out by the disease that the child can get Medicaid. You know Medicaid — that is the other program they are out to kill.
Do they really want to talk about “death panels” considering the way the system they not only defend, but want to return the worst parts of, works?
Now I realize that McConnell was on Fox, and I don’t expect any challenge from the propagandists there. But I do expect the person who is sent out to be the “token leftie” on a round table to be not Ruth Marcus who, on Meet the Press had the following exchange with David Gregory:
GREGORY: So, Ruth Marcus, what wins here: bold leadership on Medicare and the argument that the Democrats won’t do something courageous, or the Democrats who say, “Hey, those guys want to take away my Medicare”?
MARCUS: I regret to inform you that I think it’s the latter. And I think when you were asking Senator McConnell if Medicare was the new third rail of American politics, I think the question was wrong in a sense because it’s the old third rail of American politics.
MARCUS: This play has been run time after time. If you go back and look at the quotes from President Clinton back when he needed to win re-election, they sound a lot like the quotes from Democrats today about don’t let those Republicans take away your Medicare. The difference is that the debt is bigger, the deficit is bigger, the gap is bigger, and the situation is more dire. But I think that, sadly, the lesson of New York 26 is “mediscare” works.
“Mediscare” Ruth? Seriously? And why is it a sad state of affairs when the truth wins out? And why is is scandalous to show an ad that shows the republicans throwing Grandma off a cliff, but “Death Panels” got parrotted by the mainstream media as if they were real; the M$M dutifully “reported” the lies of republicans as “republicans say,” and no investigation or actual journalism takes place.
Sadly, the transcript fails to note how very close David Brooks came to wetting himself, he was so eagerly in agreement.
Steve Benen shares my exasperation and summed it up perfectly.
It’s exasperating, but it’s worth reemphasizing what too many establishment types simply refuse to understand: Democrats are telling the truth. Indeed, Dems are doing what the media is reluctant to do: offering an accurate assessment of the Republican plan for Medicare. If voters find the GOP proposal frightening, the problem is with the plan, not with Democrats’ rhetoric.
I’m at a loss to understand what, exactly, Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, and their cohorts would have Dems do. Congressional Republicans have a plan to end Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher scheme. The proposal would not only help rewrite the social contract, it would also shift crushing costs onto the backs of seniors, freeing up money for tax breaks for the wealthy. The plan is needlessly cruel, and any serious evaluation of the GOP’s arithmetic shows that the policy is a fraud.
Which part of this description is false? None of it, but apparently, Democrats just aren’t supposed to mention any of this. One party is allowed to present this agenda, but the other party is expected to sit quietly on their hands.
Once again, it’s important that the establishment recognize the difference between demagoguery and ringing an alarm. Demagoguery relies on falsehoods to scare people – it’s about playing on folks’ worst instincts, being divisive in a deceptive sort of way, effectively fooling people into believing something they shouldn’t.
But political rhetoric isn’t “demagoguery” when it’s true. If a political message leads the mainstream to feel scared, it’s not necessarily “scare tactics” if people have good reason to worry.
What the Democrats are doing is not demagoguery, it is sounding an alarm. The republicans are up to no good. They are out to do real damage and destroy Medicare as we know it. What is offensive isn’t that the Democrats are calling the republicans out. What is offensive is that the cocktail-weenie-waggers in the Washington press corps steno-pool find the truth offensive.
This post is part of a series I am writing as a blogging fellow for the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of more than 270 national and state organizations dedicated to preserving and strengthening Social Security.
The “Joplin Community Memorial Service” took place on Sunday afternoon at the Taylor Performing Arts Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. Members of the clergy from Joplin spoke, as did Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama.
The view from a television camera in the balcony – Tulsa, Oklahoma ABC affiliate.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is welcomed by the audience.
The transcript of Governor Jay Nixon’s remarks:
….[applause] Governor Jay Nixon: Thank you, Pastor Gariss. To the families of those who were killed and injured, to the families of those who are still unaccounted for, to the people of Joplin who have endured this terrible tragedy, to the thousands of Missourians and citizens across the nation who have opened their hearts to help us heal, to the hundreds of firefighters and emergency responders who came without hesitation to climb over piles of rubble in search of survivors, to Pastor Garris, Pastor Brown, Father Monaghan, Lieutenant Colonel Kilmer, and the wonderful choir from First United Methodist Church of Joplin, and to President Obama who is with us today, thank you all for coming.
It is an honor to be here, joining the thousands of Missourians observing this special day of prayer. We stand on hallowed ground, to bear witness to the destructive nature, power of Nature and the invincible power of faith. We have come to mourn what the storm has taken from us, to seek comfort in community, and to draw strength from God to build anew. It seems, it seems inconceivable that just one week ago the people of Joplin were going about their daily lives doing the ordinary things people do on a Sunday evening. Cooking supper, watching TV, walking the dog, attending their sons’ and daughters’ graduation. And then came the whirlwind. Nearly a mile wide and six miles long, with its two hundred mile an hour winds, churning and roaring, tossing cars and toppling trees, pounding homes, businesses, schools and churches to rubble. But that storm, the likes of which we have never seen, has brought forward a spirit of resilience the likes of which we’ve also never seen. [applause]…
…What our nation and our world have witnessed this week is the spirit of Joplin, Missouri. [voice: “Amen.”][cheers, applause] And we are humbled by it. You have given “love thy neighbor” new meaning. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke, chapter ten, verses twenty-five through thirty-seven begins with a conversation between Jesus and a student of religious law. It starts with a legal question and ends with a moral imperative. The student asks Jesus, What shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus turns the question around and asks, what is written in the law? And the student, who is well-versed in the Talmud and the Torah, replied, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and with all thy, thy mind. And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And Jesus replies, thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live. But then the student, wanting greater clarity than the law provided, asks Jesus, and who is my neighbor? And Jesus tells him the story of the Good Samaritan. From that parable our charge is crystal clear, Good Samaritans do not pass by those who are suffering and in need. They show their compassion with action. In Joplin, you see Good Samaritans everywhere you turn. You see them over in the gym at this university where hundreds of volunteers make sandwiches each and every day. You seem them passing out blankets, pillows, sunscreen and flashlights to our neighbors made homeless by the whirlwind.
You need a flashlight. Because it gets pretty dark here at night, especially when you’re standing in the street staring at the lonely pile of matchsticks that was once your home. If you had been in the ER at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center last Sunday evening, mere moments after the tornado struck, you would have seen Good Samaritans rushing frantically to reach the wounded and the dying. Shattered glass and bleeding patients everywhere, water and gas spewing from burst pipes, one doctor stumbled through the darkness with a flashlight in his teeth following the wail of a wounded child.
You say, you see Good Samaritans at every checkpoint in the destruction zone where police officers and citizen soldiers of our Missouri National Guard keep watch over wet socks, teddy bears, cherished wedding photos and crumpled wheelchairs, all that is left of our neighbors’ worldly goods. You see them in the churchyard, men sleeping on cots under the stars, after driving all night to get here from Tuscaloosa. [applause] These men were so touched, so moved by the kindness of strangers in their hour of need, they just had to come to Joplin. Good Samaritans on a mission from God. God has chosen us for a mission, too, to grieve together, to comfort one another, to be patient with one another, to strengthen one another, and to build Joplin anew. [applause, cheers] Not just to build it back the way it was, but to make it an even better place. We know that all those who perished here are already in [inaudible] place. [applause]
But for us, the living, there is work to do. God says, show me. [laughter] Show me. [applause, cheers] The people of Missouri were born for this mission. [laughter, applause] We are famously stubborn and self-reliant. [laughter] Practical. Impatient. But whatever may divide us, we always come together in crisis. And once we set our resolve no storm, no fire, no flood can turn us from our task. [applause, cheers]
In the pale hushed stillness before dawn, when the chainsaws have fallen silent, if you listen very closely you can hear the sound of that resolve, like a tiny silver hammer tapping, tapping, tapping inside each of our heads. In the days to come the satellite trucks will pack up, leave town and move on. Joplin’s story will disappear from the front pages but the tragedy will not disappear from our lives. We will still be here in Joplin, together, preparing for the long journey out of darkness into light. And we will need more hands, more tools, more Good Samaritans every step of the way. [applause] This tragedy has changed us forever. This community will never be the same. We will never be the same. The grief we share at this moment is overwhelming. That sorrow will always be part of us, a stone upon our hearts. But those we love, those we lost are safe with God and safe in our hearts. And in our hearts, the joy they gave us lives on and on. Nothing can take that from us. We can, and we will, heal. We’ve already begun. Together, we can and we will
rebuild upon a granite foundation of faith. What we build on this hallowed ground will be a living monument to those we lost, mothers, fathers, our precious children. It will be a monument to the will and determination of the hundreds of men, women and yes, even children, who helped their neighbors dig out of the ruins, a monument to the search and rescue cue, crews who came swiftly to aid the quick and [inaudible]. By God’s grace we will restore this community. And by God’s grace we will renew our souls.
One year from today, Joplin will look different, and more different still in two years, in three, and five. And as the years pass the moral of our story will be the same, love thy neighbor. God bless. [applause]
Before he takes the podium I’d like to thank President Obama [cheers] for his [inaudible] [cheers, applause] for this, for his tireless efforts [inaudible] resources to communities from Joplin to St. Louis, Sedalia to the bootheel, all across our country, and to communities across the nation who are struggling to recover in the aftermath of deadly storms and floods. The weight on your shoulders is heavy. We will continue to need that help in the months and years to come.
On behalf of all of the people of my great state, Mr. President, we thank you for your service. [cheers, applause] And now [inaudible] present the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama. [cheers, applause]
President Obama greets a member of the clergy after his introduction by Governor Jay Nixon.
A vehicle parked in the field northeast of the Missouri Southern State University campus
which was a designated parking area for those attending the memorial service.
Blue Girl and I made the round trip drive to Joplin (about four hours each way for a total of over 400 miles) to cover the “Joplin Community Memorial Service” on Sunday afternoon at the Taylor Performing Arts Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. Members of the clergy from Joplin spoke, as did Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama. Statewide officeholders in attendance included Senator Claire McCaskill, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, and Attorney General Chris Koster.
The Missouri National Guard controlled the perimeter of the campus and directed those attending to parking.
The audience in the balcony.
A few minutes before the memorial service began these individuals on the first row of the balcony unfurled an American flag.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon spoke and then introduced President Obama.
President Obama on the stage.
The transcript of President Obama’s remarks, compiled from the White House transcript and our audio recording:
[cheers, applause] ….President Obama: Thank you. Thank you so much. Please, please be seated.
[voices from audience: “I love you, Obama!” “We love you!”][cheers]
President Obama: I love Joplin! [applause] I love Joplin.
[voice from audience: “We love Joplin!”][cheers, applause]
President Obama: We love Joplin. [applause]
Thank you, Governor, for that powerful message, but more importantly, for being here with and for your people every step of the way. We are grateful to you, to Reverend Gariss, Father Monaghan. I’m so glad you got in that tub. [laughter, applause][voice: “Yeah!] [cheers, applause] To Reverend Brown for that incredibly powerful message. [cheers, applause] To Senator Claire McCaskill, who’s been here, and Congressman Billy Long, Mayor Woolston. To Craig Fugate. It doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he heads up FEMA, our emergency response at the federal level. Uh, he’s been going from Tuscaloosa to Joplin and everywhere in between, uh, tirelessly doing out, outstanding work. We’re grateful for him. Gail McGovern, uh, the President of the National Red Cross, which has contributed mightily to the rebuilding efforts here. Most of all, to the family and friends of all those who’ve been lost and all those who’ve been affected…
…Today we gather to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost to the storms here in Joplin and across the Midwest, to keep in our prayers those still missing, to mourn with their families, to stand together during this time of pain and trial.
And as Reverend Brown alluded to, the question that weighs on us at a time like this is, Why? Why our town? Why our home? Why my son, or husband, or wife, or sister, or friend? Why?
We do not have the capacity to answer. We can’t know when a terrible storm will strike, or where, or the severity of the devastation that it may cause. We can’t know why we’re tested with the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a home where we’ve lived a lifetime.
These things are beyond our power to control. But that does not mean we are powerless in the face of adversity. How we respond when the storm strikes is up to us. How we live in the aftermath of tragedy and heartache, that’s within our control. And it’s in these moments, to our actions, that we often see the glimpse of what makes life worth living in the first place. In the last week, that’s what Joplin has not just taught Missouri, not just taught America, but has taught the world. I was overseas in the aftermath of the storm and had world leaders coming up to me saying, let the people of Joplin know we are with them [cheers, applause] we’re thinking [inaudible][applause]
Because the world saw how Joplin responded. A university turned itself into a makeshift hospital. [applause, cheers] Some of you used your pickup trucks as ambulances, carrying the injured[applause],on doors that served as stretchers. Your restaurants have rushed food to people in need. Businesses have filled trucks with donations. You’ve waited in line for hours to donate blood to people you know, but also to people you’ve never met. And in all this, you have lived the words of Scripture: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Cast down, but not destroyed.”
As the governor said, you have shown the world what it means to love thy neighbor. You’ve banded together. You’ve come to each other’s aid. You’ve demonstrated a simple truth, that heartbreak and tragedy, no one is a stranger. Everybody is a brother. Everybody is a sister. [applause] We can all love one another.
As you move forward in the days ahead, I know that rebuilding what you’ve lost won’t be easy. I just walked through some of the neighborhoods that have been affected, and you look out at the landscape, and there have to be moments where you just say, where to begin? How to start? There are going to be moments where after the shock has worn off, you feel alone. But there’s no doubt in my mind what the people of this community can do. There’s no doubt in my mind that Joplin will rebuild. And as President, I can promise you your country will be there with you every single step of the way. [applause, cheers] We will be with you every step of the way. We’re not going anywhere. [applause] The cameras may leave. The spotlight may shift. But we will be with you every step of the way until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet. We’re not going anywhere. [applause, cheers] That is not just my promise, that’s America’s promise. It’s a promise I make here in Joplin, it’s a promise I made down in Tuscaloosa, or in any of the communities that have been hit by these devastating storms over the last few weeks.
Now, there have been countless acts of kindness and selflessness in recent days. We’ve already heard the record of some of that. But perhaps none are as inspiring as what took place when the storm was bearing down on Joplin, threatening an entire community with utter destruction. And in the face of winds that showed no mercy, no regard for human life, that did not discriminate by race or faith or background, it was ordinary people, swiftly tested, who said, “I’m willing to die right now so that someone else might live.” It was the husband who threw himself over his wife as their house came apart around them. It was the mother who shielded her young son. It was Dean Wells, a husband and father who lov
ed to sing and whistle in his church choir. Dean was working a shift at the Home Depot, managing the electrical department, when the siren rang out. He sprang into action, moving people to safety. Over and over again, he went back for others, until a wall came down on top of him. In the end, most of the building was destroyed, but not where Dean had directed his coworkers and his customers. There was a young man named Christopher Lucas who was twenty-six years old. Father of two daughters, third daughter on the way. Just like any other night, Christopher was doing his job as manager on duty at Pizza Hut. And then he heard the storm coming. It was then when this former sailor quickly ushered everybody into the walk-in freezer. The only problem was, the freezer door wouldn’t stay closed from the inside. So as the tornado bore down on this small storefront on Range Line Road, Christopher left the freezer to find a rope or a cord or anything to hold the door shut. He made it back just in time, tying a piece of bungee cord to the handle outside, wrapping the other end around his arm, holding the door closed with all his might. And Christopher held it as long as he could, until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer. [applause]
You see, there are heroes all around us, all the time. They walk by us on the sidewalk, and they sit next to us in class. They pass us in the aisle wearing an orange apron. They come to our table at a restaurant and ask us what we’d like to order. Just as we can’t know why tragedy strikes in the first place, we may never fully understand where these men and women find the courage and strength to do what they did. What we do know is that in a split-second moment where there’s little time for internal reflection or debate, the actions of these individuals were driven by love, love for a family member, love for a friend, or just love for a fellow human being.
That’s good to know. In a world that can be cruel and selfish, it’s this knowledge, the knowledge that we are inclined to love one another, that we’re inclined to do good, to be good, that causes us to take heart. We see with fresh eyes what’s precious and so fragile and so important to us. We put aside our petty grievances and our minor disagreements. We see ourselves in the hopes and hardships of others. And in the stories of people like Dean and people like Christopher, we remember that each us contains reserves of resolve and compassion. There are heroes all around us, all the time.
And so, in the wake of this tragedy, let us live up to their example [applause], to make each day count, to live with the sense of mutual regard, to live with that same compassion that they demonstrated in their final hours. We are called by them to do everything we can to be worthy of the chance that we’ve been given to carry on.
I understand that at a memorial yesterday for Dean, his wife decided to play a recording of Dean whistling a song he loved, Amazing Grace. The lyrics are a fitting tribute to what Joplin has been through. “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.[applause] Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace.”
May those we’ve lost know peace, and may grace guide the people of Joplin home. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you. [applause, cheers]
After President Obama’s remarks, a closing hymn, and a benediction by Father Justin Monaghan the President and Governor Jay Nixon greeted tornado survivors in the front rows of the auditorium.
Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel speaks with a radio reporter about the memorial service after the service.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster speaking with individuals outside after the service.
President Obama embraces a survivor of last Sunday’s EF5 tornado at the memorial service held at Missouri Southern State University
on May 29, 2011 — photo by Michael Bersin, Show Me Progress
Joplin, Missouri came together today to mourn their dead and celebrate the lives of those they lost, and Governor Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama were there to mourn with them and celebrate the strength and resolve of our fellow Missourians who are recovering from an unimaginable disaster.
Governor Nixon delivered one of his better speeches, and then President Obama took the podium to deliver a 15 minute address that wove the stories of the heroes who emerged that fateful day, some sacrificing their own lives to save others, without a moment of hesitation in with stories of the Good Samaritans who came to help afterward — like the volunteers who drove straight through from Tuscaloosa to help, because when they needed help, they got it, and they were moved to return in kind the kindness they had been shown.
He ended his address with a recitation of the words to Amazing Grace, a comforting and appropriate choice, in this situation.
The first thing I noticed as I approached my sister’s town of Montrose, PA, was the traffic. My last visit was four years ago, and the town had changed a lot even then, but I don’t remember so much truck traffic on the one lane road through town.
When I commented about the traffic, my sister explained that it is because of the gas drilling. My 76 yr old sister doesn’t follow politics and tends to believe whatever she hears from her friends at Penny’s Cafe. When I asked her if any of the area residents protested the hydraulic fracturing method as dangerous, her answer was that it’s better to produce our own energy and not have to rely on “someplace like Syria.”
My sister is one of the more educated residents of Montrose, and she believes the gas company propaganda. So what hope is there for this sad little town? They believe the gas company has saved them from becoming a ghost town. Most of the other job opportunities have dried up or moved too far from town to make it reasonable to commute to work.
At the old inn on Main Street where my husband and I spent two nights, the rumble of truck traffic is constant and disturbing. There happened to be a pot hole right in front of the inn, so the heavy trucks made a “kar-umphing” sound as they hit that hole every 2-3 minutes. (I actually timed them.)
My sister said the noise continues 24/7 except for Sunday mornings. I’m guessing that was part of the deal. The gas company allows the people a few hours of peace and quiet each week.
At dinner, I asked my niece and grand-niece what they thought of the gas drilling. They see it as a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the money the workers make gets recycled in the community as they pay rent, shop, and eat in the diners. On the other hand, with all the new workers bidding for apartments, the rents have shot up and forced longtime residents out of those apartments.
My niece said there is a lot of tension among farmers who used to be close friends because some want the drilling and pipelines on their property and others don’t. She observed that “People aren’t working as hard as they used to.” I understood that to mean the new money is tempting farmers to give up growing crops. Coincidentally, my niece’s husband sells farm equipment which may be why he has noticed the changes in farm productivity.
When I asked about people’s drinking water being affected, they said six families complained about their wells being contaminated, and the gas company agreed to drill them new wells. A handful of protesters show up one evening a week in a nearby town, but “nobody pays any attention to them.”
My grand-niece is 20 years old and more aware of the environmental damage caused by fracking. She said she wished Pennsylvania had done the same as New York State and established a moratorium until more is learned about the consequences of this type of drilling. Montrose is about 30 miles north of Scranton and only 25 miles from Binghamton, NY.
I asked whether the gas company was going to pay to fix the roads their trucks are tearing up. Evidently, some money is going to the local road department, but the taxes being paid by the drilling company to the state probably won’t come back to the local area, according to my niece. They are not optimistic about their roads being repaired.
I asked the waitress in a local diner about the awful noise rumbling by just a few feet from the window where I was eating breakfast. She said most of the traffic was the “water trucks.”
So I paid closer attention, and saw that some of the tanker trucks were labeled “fresh water,” and some were labeled “residual waste.” But there were hundreds of dump trucks abd flat bed trucks loaded with rock too. I learned later that there is also a bluestone shale quarry nearby that has been in business for years. So maybe the local folks are so used to truck traffic that a few hundred more a day doesn’t bother them.
It’s like the frog in the boiling pot metaphor. The destruction of this quiet little town has been so gradual, and they are so desperate for income, that they don’t even notice the earth shattering noise a few feet from their doors. When an older woman was ready to leave the diner and had to cross the street, three people sitting near her offered to walk her across the street. They joked about how easy it would be to get rid of a crabby relative by pushing him or her into the traffic. I’m not a mental health professional, but joking about something you hate but can’t do anything about must be listed somewhere as an indicator of emotional stress.
Keep in mind that these roads were built decades ago to handle local traffic and maybe some vacationers on their way to the Pocono Mtns. One lane in each direction, no shoulders, no sidewalks, no grassy right-of-way spaces. The difference between the store parking lot and the lane of traffic is about the size of your shoe.
Heading west on our way back to Missouri, we saw dozens of billboards pushing the propaganda messages. “The New Green is Blue” with a blue gas flame prominently featured. “Clean coal is the energy of the future, and it’s all RED, WHITE AND BLUE.” (Cue the patriotic music.)
My own observation of what is happening to these small towns in NE Pennsylvania is the same as many others. All over America, people are so desperate for jobs with enough income to live on that they are willing to work under any conditions, never complain and allow themselves to be dehumanized so gradually that they don’t notice how much their quality of life has been diminished. It used to be that an educated or trained person could count on a good job with benefits. Not any more. Our Corporate Masters have enslaved us by eliminating our choice of occupation and power to bargain for better pay and working conditions.
I saw several young women standing near cars and old pickups loaded with household goods. These are the new Okies. Families travel wherever they can find jobs, living out of their vehicles when necessary, hanging on to whatever shred of self respect they can muster. This is what has been done to us over the last few decades, and it has been all planned out by the greedy bastards who don’t give a damn about small town folks or their communities.
I hope I live long enough to see the current rumblings of protest around the country erupt into an overthrow of corporate power.
Sen. Brian Nieves showed his psychotic side on May 11 in his Jeff City office. The three retired teachers who visited him that day have written of their experience in the Washington Missourian. Read their letters here.
For visuals of the crazy man in action, watch this video.
The FiredUpMissouri website is doing a great job of collating all the bits of evidence regarding Nieves’ mental state. Democrats should get a candidate ready to run in a special election for the 26th Senate seat because Nieves’ mental condition, according to a psychiatrist friend of mine, is on target for a complete breakdown soon.
I know two of the three men who wrote letters to the Missourian, and I can attest to their solid character and completely non-violent personalities. One of them, in fact, started his career in the Catholic faith as a teaching brother and is totally incapable of saying or doing anything to offend anyone.
The way Nieves turned his misbehavior into an attack on the two men he assaulted verbally is typical of people who are paranoid. Saying that he is defending his family is nuts, nuts, nuts. His family is alone 4 days a week while he’s in Jeff City, and, according to Nieves’ own testimony on the Senate floor, they are all “excellent shots.” It doesn’t sound like his family has to worry about being attacked. In fact, they sound like the kind of people to stay away from.
Let’s just hope and pray Nieves doesn’t kill someone before he is rounded up and committed to a mental hospital.
You know the time-tested-and-proven addage — a gaffe is when a politician opens his mouth and what he or she really believes comes out. Sometimes it’s the revelation that the politician is barking mad and doesn’t have the foggiest notion what they are talking about.
We only have to look back a week for a perfect example of this phenomenon, when Mitch McConnell said this in an interview with Congressional Quarterly:
“Last week, the Social Security trustees issued a report saying Social Security and Medicare are not sustainable under their current structure.”
Back in the day, when we had a functioning press corps instead of a cocktail-weenie-wagging press corpse; back when we had real reporters doing actual journalism instead of the steno-pool full of faithful scribes who can be counted on to regurgitate right-wing talking points unchallenged, that sort of nonsense would have been a bit in the teeth of the reporter, who would have done his or her homework ahead of time, and McConnell would have been hammered mercilessly with the fact that the trustees said no such thing.
“Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing.”
There is a world of difference between what McConnell said the trustees reported and what the McConnell said they reported.
McConnell’s implication is that there is a hair-on-fire emergency and Social Security has to be fundamentally changed because it’s doomed to bankruptcy otherwise; when in fact what the trustees presented was an either/or — either revenues will have to be raised, or benefits will have to be cut decades down the road.
This would be like driving from Chicago to Detroit and determining that at some point you will need more gas to complete the trip. That would mean stopping at a gas station and refilling your tank. By contrast, McConnell’s comment implies that the car is about to breakdown and will not make the trip.
Congressional Quarterly failed their readers when they didn’t follow up and press the Senator to clarify whether
A.) he didn’t understand what the trustees actually said or
B.) was being deliberately dishonest in pursuit of political gain.
They can wail and gnash their teeth and rend the cloth from their breast all day long and into the night. That still won’t change the fact that Social Security is not only not responsible for our deficit woes, it is independent of the deficit andit is solvent for decades. Period. Full stop.
The trustees report that McConnell misrepresented actually presents the same findings as the CBO report in that last link. Both report that the Social Security trustfund, without changing a thing, will be able to make full payouts through 2030-something — it should also be noted that the full payout projections have been pushed downward not by flaws in the system, but by the economic downturn of the last couple of years. Both note that those numbers should start ticking back up as the economy recovers, and if that isn’t the case, we have a lot bigger problems than Social Security heading our way.
In reality, any projected shortfalls in future Social Security benefits could be easily remedied with either of a couple of easy fixes would not only fill that hole, it would put the program on a sound footing indefinitely. The first option would be to raise the cap. Currently, a person making more than $106,800 pays no Social Security tax on any monies earned over that amount. Removing the cap and taxing all monies equally would put the program on solid footing indefinitely. So would a very modest increase — 1% or less — in the amount of payroll tax withheld from the wages of those of us who earn less than $106,800.
I don’t know about you, but I would be willing to give up three designer coffees a pay-period now to assure that Social Security will be there when I reach retirement age.
Elected leaders who embrace the “fundamental change is necessary” mantra are either stupid, or lying. In neither instance should they be making decisions that affect millions of Americans. And that goes double for those who parrot the BS knowing full well it’s just that…BS.
I’m looking at you, CQ.
This post is part of a series I am writing as a blogging fellow for the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of more than 270 national and state organizations dedicated to preserving and strengthening Social Security.
…Since 1978, Highwoods Properties has been providing high-quality service and offering well-designed spaces for office, industrial and retail customers. As a publicly traded (NYSE:HIW) real estate investment trust (“REIT”) and a member of S&P MidCap 400 Index, Highwoods has nine local divisions that service 12 markets across the Southeast and Midwest United States, providing leasing, management, development, construction and other customer-related services for our properties and for third parties.
For more than 13 years, Highwoods has had a presence in Kansas City and currently owns, leases and manages more than 2.2 million square feet of office and retail space including the world-renowned Country Club Plaza….
And the Save Our Plaza campaign, the folks that don’t like the proposed office building:
CONTRIBUTION OF MORE THAN $5,000.00 RECEIVED BY ANY COMMITTEE FROM ANY SINGLE DONOR – TO BE FILED WITHIN 48 HOURS OF RECEIVING THE CONTRIBUTION