Archive for budget cuts

And now … the GOP War On Women Turns To Verified Rape Victims

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What would Maya Angelou say?

George Will coming out of the closet as a rape apologist should have been warning that the camo is coming off the old white male faces. Have a listen to his latest thoughts on sexual violence on college campuses, catch up at Raw Story.

Will asserts that making the leap from “forcible sexual penetration” to “nonconsensual touching” is too broad of a definition for sexual assault, and denigrates the “doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape,” worrying about the costs of litigation for the universities and the reputations of college men accused of assault.

Pick-Favorite-Republican

Worse?!? The existence of a backlog of rape kits that should humiliate SCROTUS itself. The offensive, unjust, rapidly-accumulating numbers and the systemic devaluation of finding justice for one of the most heinous crimes man can commit are shocking.

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Anyone who has seen an episode of Law & Order S.V.U. knows how critical a rape kit is to a case.

And underneath that legal case is a woman, a rawly, recently broken woman, who knows that the precious shreds of DNA taken from her in painful, violating ways may be the only clues a jury will take seriously enough for her to find justice. And any hopes of knitting that shattered life back together.

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You're 24 years old and in Tennessee, far as can be from a Hollywood set and that much more embarrassing because you know everyone in that little town and they know you. Collecting leftover semen and skin scrapings from under your raw, torn fingernails all happened in a fog, but you were repeatedly told by someone like Detective Olivia (goddess forfend as kind and a female at all) that this was EVIDENCE.

Your body is a crime scene. That is a reality that has been experienced by far too many women to ponder without a rage response. Girls and women of all ages, brought in by police of family, or having somehow gathered the inner strength to commit to doing the ultimate Walk of Shame and report a sexual assault with the intent to prosecute.

With great relief you watch the technicians finish your rape kit, and are congratulated for having chosen to stand up and fight back.

IforgotIonlyexist

Then, crickets. The big cricket chorale of We Don't Care. The young Ronan Farrow of MSNBC afternoon earnestness, gave the absurd and disgusting rape kit backlog story a slot in his 'Call To Action' series this summer, a worthy cause.

don'tMakeMe

Prepare to be more outraged that usual, and there's more in a shocking second segment.

And he then he and guests tell us of The Hundreds Of Thousands, yes I said Hundreds Of Thousands of backlogged rape kits lying around in storage.

GOP: shock and rage would be the appropriate response. Not cutting, cutting cutting every service that might help anyone other than the 1%. Not making women invisible and their justice meaningless.

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GOP austerity bit GOP in their IRS scandal ass

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issa Via Jamal Said-Reuters IRS

Image via Jamal Said-Reuters

Here we go, another full-on assault by Darrrell Issa, BSer In Chief, a rabidly fixated man suffering from Hyperventilitis Uninterruptus in search of a scandal. A hypocritical, lying camera-hog who is escorting a rabidly fixated gang on a desperate hunt for grounds to impeach President Obama. Somehow. Somewhere. Anywhere, dammit. Watch out, IRS, you're back in the exploitation hot seat.

From everything that's been reported, there may indeed be problems with the agency, but the IRS witch hunt is unlikely to lead back to the White House. So much for that wet dream.

I ran across some of the contradictory news on the topic, starting with a Los Angeles Times editorial that included this sentence:

But rather than addressing that issue systematically, the IRS gave extra scrutiny mainly to tea party groups, often in inappropriate ways, an inspector general reported.

But back in April 2014, there was this Think Progress headline :

New Records: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

L.A. Times, your thoughts?

failure to communicate

Speaking of the Times, here is an interesting tidbit that they reported in an IRS Scandal for Dummeez article:

So wasn’t there a backup?

There was, but the backup tapes were recycled after six months, Koskinen said, and the agency didn’t try to recover Lerner’s emails from the tapes at the time. Budget cuts left the IRS with aging computer systems that limited the size of employees' inboxes and lacked the capability to archive everybody’s emails, he said. The agency decided it couldn’t afford the estimated $10 million it would cost to upgrade the system, he added.

Apparently, the GOP obsession with austerity bit the obsessed GOP in their obsessed GOP ass. Yes, Republicans, budget cuts-- the ones you insist upon and covet so very much and so very LOUDLY-- were a factor in the Big IRS Scandal Version Something.0 that you may very well have helped to create.

Give yourselves a big pat on the back, Team Issa. Then go back to doing what you always do:

blame obama

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Can Time(lapse) Heal Every Wound?

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military

The military serve us 24/7/365 all across the world. Their's is a thankless task. When things are going well, we hardly know they are there. And when things go badly anywhere in the world, they're called upon to make sure that we as a nation are kept safe.

For doing such a life-threatening task, we should, at the very least lavish them with praise and thanks. Not that they're looking for it. But it's deserved.

Way too often we hear of the results of this constant stress that these brave souls endure and in many too many cases, the aftermath of those who crack. The human soul is fragile, and sometimes individuals crack or break. Whether this ends up being reported as an on base shooting, a suicide, a sexual attack or most commonly substance abuse, we can't desert them. We can't just turn our backs. They need support. Our support.

Returning vets are promised and need medical care, mental health counselling, reintegration therapy and understanding. Sadly our government hasn't kept up with that. Imagine we're the country with drones and satellite technology, but we still have a bulk of our returning vets records on hand prepared forms. The computerization of veterans benefits and payments lags an estimated 18 months behind. A vet returns and it's a year and a half before they are up to speed on their post release care, therapy, and promised benefits.

It's shameful.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a count on a January night in 2012, there were 62,619 Veterans who were homeless. This is just plain wrong.

Numbers of those returning with mental, emotional or substance dependency issues dwarf those numbers. From the National Institute of Health (NIH)

Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem and one which poses a significant health risk. A study of Army soldiers screened 3 to 4 months after returning from deployment to Iraq showed that 27 percent met criteria for alcohol abuse and were at increased risk for related harmful behaviors (e.g., drinking and driving, using illicit drugs).

Mental illness among military personnel is also a major concern. In another study of returning soldiers, clinicians identified 20 percent of active and 42 percent of reserve component soldiers as requiring mental health treatment.

So while Paul Ryan and his GOP budget cutters try to pare back the aid given to the military, think about how much we rely on our soldiers, and how little we really give them after we've taken four years from them in life altering stress. They serve for us. They volunteer. Let's volunteer back and help them out. Support more money for returning troops. Support Veterans programs.

Here's a feel good sample of what can happen when you truly do support our returning heroes:

Tell  me he doesn't resemble Mark Walberg!

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Bernie Sanders: You can't fix the economy simply by shredding the safety net

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GOP it's not about you

What oh what would we Progressives do without Bernie Sanders? In today's Los Angeles Times, he wrote an op-ed laying out in very clear detail how to make wise choices about how to fix the economy.

Sanders, thankfully, is a member of a budget panel composed of Democratic, Republican and independent Senate and House members doing what they can, supposedly, to avoid another GOP government shutdown.

Senator Sanders explains how to move forward (as opposed to the same old backward, destructive GOP ideas), and how we managed to go from healthy surpluses to (unnecessary) deficits.

He reminds us that by the end of President Clinton's presidency, we had a a $236-billion surplus, and that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted a 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion, meaning we could have erased the national debt by 2011.

Too bad Republicans screwed that up.

And of course, they're blaming President Obama for the horrible outcomes of their horrible policies and horrible obstruction. Here's how it really went down:

  • GW Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq wars were not paid for.
  • Those wars cost us up to $6 trillion.
  • Those wars were put on our national credit card.
  • Bush signed Congress's costly prescription drug bill.
  • That costly prescription drug program was not paid for either.
  • Bush and Congress gave big fat tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations.
  • As a result, revenue went down.
  • The 2008 recession, caused by the deregulation of Wall Street, also caused revenue to drop.
  • Big fat surpluses turned into big fat deficits.

tadaa3Now gather 'round kiddies, because it's Hypocrisy Time!

Yay

Interestingly, today's "deficit hawks" in Congress — Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and other conservative Republicans — voted for those measures that drove up deficits. Now that they're worried about deficits again, they want to dismantle virtually every social program designed to protect working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor.

In other words, it's OK to spend trillions on a war we should never have waged in Iraq and to provide huge tax breaks for billionaires and multinational corporations.

booo

Sanders goes on to say that austerity doesn't work, because it clearly hurts those who are already suffering.

Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. [...]

At a time when we now spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we can make judicious cuts in our armed forces without compromising our military capability.

He also thinks it would be a swell idea if Congress members started, you know, listening to the American people, especially because so many polls show that we don't want cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, according to a recent National Journal poll, 81% do not want to cut Medicare at all, 76% do not want to cut Social Security at all, and 60% do not want to cut Medicaid at all. Other polls make it clear that Americans believe that the wealthiest among us and large corporations must pay their fair share in taxes.

So, Republicans (and even some Dems), how about paying more attention to us, the voters, instead of trying to grab it all for yourselves? It's not about you. It's about all of us. It's about We the People.

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Despite Pres. Obama Beating Back Barbarians at the Gate, #Sequestration Is Still Harming Many Americans

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cancel the sequester

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Yes indeed, with "The Tea Party and the Economy: It's Like Putting an Arsonist in Charge of the Fire Department."  Paul Krugman also opined on the ruinous impact of the rabid Right Wing in a column, "The Damage Done":

Elections have consequences, and one consequence of Republican victories in the 2010 midterms has been a still-weak economy when we could and should have been well on the way to full recovery.

But why have Republican demands so consistently had a depressing effect on the economy?

Part of the answer is that the party remains determined to wage top-down class warfare in an economy where such warfare is particularly destructive.

Think of Obama's sudden emergence of spine as having kept the dam of the American economy from bursting, wreaking havoc throughout the nation -- with a devastating global impact had the nation defaulted.  Yet, due to the Tea Party (financed largely by the likes of the Koch Brothers) and Republican Ayn Randians such as Paul Ryan and the opportunistic Ted Cruz (along with the less fanatic, but, nonetheless, austerity-driven Mitch McConnell) the dam is still leaking like a sieve.  It hasn't burst, but the jury is still out on whether or not the dam will break open from all the holes blasted open by the alliance of libertarian oligarchs with neo-Confederate populists.

Let's look at just one example: sequestration.  The Republicans in Congress insisted on potential sequestration (automatic cuts in the domestic and military budgets) as a condition of raising the debt in 2011. [...]

This summer, the AFL-CIO blog listed "25 Ways the Sequester Causes Real Harm to Real People." These include: "kids kicked out of Head Start"; "increased homelessness"; "elderly adults not being able to eat"; "loss of unemployment benefits"; and much more damage to a large swath of US citizens, not to mention the economy. [...]

Given that the Republicans in Congress continue to oppose new sources of revenue (higher taxes on the rich and the closing of corporate and financial institution loopholes, along with perhaps some financial transaction taxes), the likelihood of the austerity juggernaut continuing is high.

Basically, the federal budget and debt have been negotiated since Reagan largely on Republican terms...

Please read the entire post here.

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12-year-old girl dies of asthma; father blames school staff cuts

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philadelphia student dies of asthma

I worked at public schools for years, and a common sight would be a student stepping away to use an inhaler. Occasionally, a kid would forget to bring one, or they would lose theirs, and I would notice them sitting on the floor gasping for breath as school staff scrambled to track down family members or the school nurse who could quickly provide one.

It was always a disturbing and tense scenario, one that I could never shake off, one that is stuck in my memory forever, one that made adults and students alike feel helpless as we tried to comfort the panicky, choking child trying to cope until help arrived.

Twelve-year-old Philadelphia sixth-grader Laporshia Massey had an asthma attack at school and died later that day.

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, there was no nurse on campus, nor was there a trained medical professional to recognize how serious her symptoms were. So they did what we found ourselves doing, they told her to try to remain calm. The difference was, we were fully staffed and could respond quickly and efficiently.

Laporshia was denied the attention and care she needed, so by the time she was taken to the hospital, it was too late. She lost her life.

Via Philadelphia City Paper:

Sixth-grader Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications, according to her father, who says he rushed her to the emergency room soon after she got home from school on the afternoon of Sept. 25. He says Laporshia had begun to feel ill earlier that day at Bryant Elementary School, where a nurse is on staff only two days a week. This day was not one of those days. 

Daniel Burch, Laporshia’s father, is angry and wants to know whether Philadelphia’s resource-starved school district failed to save his daughter’s life.

“If she had problems throughout the day, why … didn’t [the school] call me sooner?” asks Burch... “Why,” he asks, “didn’t [the school] take her to the hospital?”

Burch's fianceé, Sherri Mitchell, got a call from school during which Laporshia told her, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Neither Burch nor Mitchell realized how serious the situation was, thinking that a trained professional at the elementary school would diagnose her.

When Laporshia went to the teacher, she was told that there was "no nurse and just to be calm.” Once school let out, a school staff member drove Laporshia home.

When she got there, her father immediately gave her medication and rushed her to the hospital.

She collapsed in the car, at which point Burch flagged down a passing ambulance in the middle of traffic. Burch says his daughter later died at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. [...]

The District source believes that Laporshia’s life could have been saved if the school had responded appropriately to her illness. “If they had called rescue, she would still be here today,” the source said.

The Philadelphia school district has been underfunded; Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts have let 3,000 staff members go since June. Per the City Paper article, after the initial cuts, a nurse specifically warned that "other staff were not competent to deal with asthmatic students in her absence."

Sadly, the nurse was right.

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John Boehner wants to prolong sequestration. Oh, and his job performance numbers are in the toidy. Coincidence?

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rock bottom smaller

A Public Policy Polling poll of Ohioans has GOP House Speaker John Boehner's job performance numbers at a whopping 20 percent; 59% disapprove of the job he's doing. (John Kasich's not doing too well, either. Follow the link.)

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Since October 2012, The Boehner's approvals have fallen 13 points, down from 33%.

Gee, could it have anything to do with the fact that he "is, in fact, bad at his job”? How bad? Well, as we speak, TPM has a post on Boehner's call for more-- wait for it-- sequestration:

...House Speaker John Boehner reiterated that his chamber would move quickly when Congress reconvenes to pass a continuing resolution that would avoid a government shutdown but prolong sequestration.

The short-term resolution would keep the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration in place.

Good grief, can he get any more tone deaf?

Take this L.A. Times headline, for example:

Defense officials tell Congress that scheduled sequester budget cuts threaten to gut the military.

Or this Times story:

The Obama administration announced Monday that about 5,600 low-income California children would be shut out of federally funded Head Start preschool programs because of Washington budget gridlock.

How's that outreach workin' for ya, GOP?

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