Now Here's a Jobs Plan: Apply the FICA Tax to All Income Including Investment Income and Lower the Retirement Age

It’s time for us progressives to stop playing defense on Social Security.

We’ve watched the retirement system suffer years of attacks by conservatives and by class traitors in the Democratic Party. We have seen the retirement age raised since 1983 from 65 to 67, and the cost-of-living calculation altered so that our benefits have declined in value over time, while the tax rate on working people has risen.

It’s time to stop fighting rear-guard actions and to go on the offense.

The Latest Bi-Partisan Attack on Social Security: Let Them Eat Cat Food

President Obama’s Deficit Commission is all smoke and mirrors. Its members are making a big show of laboring over ”painful” choices and considering all options in their quest to bring down the deficit. But  inside the Beltway everyone knows what’s going to happen: The commission will reduce the deficit on the backs of the old and the poor, through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Some opponents have taken to calling it the Cat Food Commission, since that’s what it’s victims will be forced to eat once the commission gets done slashing away at their modest entitlements.

In fact, the true intent of the Deficit Commission was evident before it was even formed. That intent was only driven home when Obama appointed as its co-chair Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming who is well known for voicing, in the most colorful terms, what Paul Krugman calls the zombie lie” that old-age entitlements will soon bankrupt the country.

Plans to cut Social Security could have retirees sharing with their petsPlans to cut Social Security could have retirees sharing with their pets

The Lady Who Cried 'Nigger'

So, psycho-babble specialist Dr. Laura Schlessinger spins her shamed retreat from nationally syndicated conservative talk radio with claims that she’s collateral damage in America’s N-word War.

Schlessinger sparked ire in some circles recently when she used the word “nigger” eleven times while scolding a caller to her radio show for lacking a “sense of humor” because that black caller objected to her white husband’s friends and family members constantly making racist remarks.

Schlessinger’s half-hearted apology for that radio rant evaporated quickly with a verbal offensive couching her decision to reject renewing the contract for her highly-rated radio show as a heroic act to regain First Amendment rights “to say what is on my mind” particularly for assailing “special interest groups [who decide] this is the time to silence a voice of dissent.”

Yes, Dr. Laura, too many are “hypersensitive about color” as you proclaimed during your crass responses to that caller who was clearly seeking compassion.

And yes, Dr. Laura, hypocrisy and craziness abound (among all races) around use of the word nigger, the long-standing racist slur now reduced to the sanitized, psychic-salving phrase: “the N-word.”

But please Dr. Laura, stop your BS about you being the real victim here!

Maintaining the Empire

First it was Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacking the “professional left” (whatever that means) for wanting to “eliminate the Pentagon.” Then the liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd kicked the left for “constantly sniping at Obama” and for considering “pragmatism a moral compromise.”

Next, pragmatist Senator Harry Reid announced he opposed building an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, the sort of pragmatism power-Democrats understand, ie. pandering to the intolerant bigot vote in a close election, in Reid’s case against Republican nutcase Sharron Angle.

The fact the New York community center is far from Nevada and is the project of a Sufi element of Islam that preaches peace and love didn’t seem to bother Harry.

The left does not oppose pragmatism or compromise; the left can’t stand the absence of backbone and a moral compass.

The 'Mosque' Saga: Republican Racists, Media Scumbags and Hypocrites, Democratic and Republican

The saga of the Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, deceptively dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by a right-wing clique with the avid support of Rupert Murdoch and his New York Post and Fox TV Network, exposes the right in America as a bunch of charlatans, hypocrites and plain old garden-variety scumbags.

New York, the ultimate melting pot of cultures, races and religions in America, has no problem with a Muslim center being set up in Lower Manhattan. (It is not, let me note, being built on the site of the World Trade Center, or even next door. That area is reserved for strip clubs, bars etc., and a big hole in the ground that nobody can figure out how to fill.)

The community center, which will include a Muslim mosque and a multi-religion chapel, is blocks away from the site of the old Twin Towers, which, if you’ve lived in Manhattan as I did for years, is described locally as “across town.”

The biggest hypocrisy about this right-wing fake scandal is that the people making all the noise are the same right wing ranters who are always complaining about the Federales interfering with local people’s right to do things their own way.

We Need NASCAR rules for Politicians

Have you ever, like me, found yourself wondering, while watching or listening to politicians on what passes for the news these days, “Who are these people?” Have you ever found yourself wondering what makes them tick?

Trust me, you’re not alone. Inquiring minds want to know.

Now, I’ve come up with an idea that may help us figure it out as we wend our way through the muck and mire of political web sites, press releases, official bios and and talk radio/TV.

If Obama wore his sponsors openlyIf Obama wore his sponsors openly

There's Nothing Wrong with Social Security that Taxing the Rich Fairly Wouldn't Fix

New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman, in his column today, is right to expose the attacks on Social Security as being the work of right-wing ideologues eager to destroy a government program that works, backed by cowardly Democrats who want to show their fiscal “responsibility” by getting tough with future pensioners.

But he doesn’t go the extra step to point out that this program, founded 75 years ago as a cornerstone of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, could be much more fair and even generous to elderly and disabled retirees, and also placed on a much sounder economic footing, by a few simple reforms that would not cost most people a penny, or require hard working folks to work one day longer before retiring.

Beware the Sound of Scurrying Feet: The SS Obama is Going Down

NBC/Wall St Journal Poll: 40% say country worse off since Obama, 31% say better
Federal Reserve Board: US economy is stalling again
NY TImes: “White House Memo: First Wave of Weary Aides Heads for the Exits”
Labor Dept.: New jobless claims hit record not seen since February 20

It’s a grim sign for the Obama administration that droves of staffers are pulling up stakes and looking for jobs elsewhere, not even having the grace to wait until the mid-term elections are mercifully over. Gone is Christina Romer, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, going is White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, gone is communications spokeswoman Linda Douglass, gone is Budget Director Peter Orszag, gone is White House Counsel Gregory Craig. Even the president’s senior political adviser and close confidante, David Axelrod, widely credited with having engineered his primary and election victories, is said to be ready to leave.

Seasoned sailors used to get anxious if they saw a line of rats scurrying down the mooring lines securing a ship to the pier just before it was time to set sail. It was considered an omen of doom. And indeed, the SS Obama, a once mighty vessel hailed as unsinkable at its launch, does appear to be listing badly (to starboard) now, just as it prepares to head back out to sea and face a severe November storm.

The captain of this ship, Barack Obama, has made so many wrong turns (always to starboard) on his maiden voyage that it’s no wonder so many of the crew are looking for other work. Not only that, but Capt. Obama made some really bad choices for chief officers, giving those who labor below decks little reason to feel confident that their leader’s own mistakes in navigation or judgement would be rectified.

Airport Insecurity

I’m a 1K flyer, meaning I fly over 100,000 miles a year with United, and consider myself fairly inured to the indignities of travel by now.  But, going through my first Whole Body Back-Scatter X-ray at the Denver airport recently took frequent flying to a whole new level of creepiness.
 
The Homeland Security people obviously put a lot of thought into the implementation of this latest supposed “advance” in aircraft terror prevention.
 
Before the entrance to the X-ray chamber there was a little sign depicting fuzzy, colorless images of a stripped-down man and woman, which I suppose were meant to put us at ease by suggesting that what the examiners see is not the least bit personal or prurient.
 
If so, it didn’t work. The depersonalized photos of the little nudes just reminded me of those grisly photos of concentration camp survivors, their bodies wasted by starvation, gaunt faces devoid of expression.

Bradley Manning and the Secret World

Poor Bradley Manning. The kid can’t catch a break. Not only does the military have him locked in some inhuman solitary hole where they can slow-torture him using the latest approved methods, now his troubled private life is being broadcast for all to see.

After running 75,000 secret military field reports released by WIkiLeaks, The New York Times assigned a reporter, Ginger Thompson, to find out personal details about PFC Manning, who is being held at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.

What she found was a sensitive, smart kid who did his best to survive the mess he landed in when he was born. A dysfunctional family life seems to have pushed him into the loner category. Then, as kids are encouraged to do by recruitment posters, he chose to join the Army, as Thompson writes, “to give his life some direction.”

Nothing out of the ordinary, here. A recruiter realizes the kid is quite smart, maybe a bit nerdy, but he’s a wiz with computers. As a former employer told Thompson, Manning was blessed with “an almost innate sense for programming.”

But then the Times reveals that Manning is homosexual, which means, because the military’s absurd “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is finally being discussed in an adult fashion, the Manning story is a potential bomb in that discussion.